Client Testimonial Examples: How to Get and Use Social Proof

Written by Jacquelyn Van Sant

One of the most common things that freelance writers overlook in their writing portfolio website is client testimonials. Your writing samples are spectacular and you’ve got a sound pitch, but nothing speaks more powerfully to your skills than social proof. 95% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions, whether good or bad. Freelance writers can tap into this human instinct to build credibility and trust with potential clients. We do that with social proof in the form of client testimonials. In this post I'll cover: 

  • Why client testimonials matter
  • 5 things that make for a great testimonial
  • How to ask for client testimonials (including templates!)
  • How to showcase your testimonials on multiple platforms

Why Do Client Testimonials Matter for Freelance Writers?

Incorporating client testimonials into your portfolio validates your writing skills, your professionalism, and gives potential clients insight into what working with you would be like. It also provides proof – from the words of satisfied previous clients – that investing in your services is worth every penny.

Positive reviews do more for building trust with potential clients than anything you say yourself.

Think of satisfied clients as enthusiastic promoters of your business. When you provide a great service, happy clients will want to share how you helped them achieve their goals. Let their words become the ambassador for your business and do the hard work of turning cold leads into warm leads.

5 Elements That Make Effective Client Testimonials

Time and effort go into getting a positive endorsement from clients. Make sure the client testimonials you receive and share truly shine. Here are five key things that can make an effective client testimonial:

1. Specific results

Carefully consider what feedback you have received from previous or current clients, and choose testimonials that add proof of your success and value to your portfolio. Avoid vague phrasing that is too subjective and doesn’t tell a potential client anything valuable.

When reviewing a potential testimonial or writing one for a client, ask the basic questions: What? Why? How? This helps you (and the client) include the reason for the project, project details, and specific results or outcomes of the collaboration.

“Numbers are your friends in testimonials and case studies. If you don't have that, focus on the feeling,” recommends Matt Saunders, a certified business coach and author of The Dream Client Playbook. “Use your testimonials to build an image of what it's like to work with you.”

2. Credibility of the source

Your client testimonials don't need to come from well-known sources; however, you need to include enough information about the source so that your potential clients can relate to them and find their words credible.

Build the credibility of your source by including their name, title or position, company name or industry, and even a link to their website.

Also, think about who you are requesting a testimonial from and how relevant that person’s position or title is to the services you provide. A freelance writer specializing in SEO for e-commerce sites should share testimonials from digital marketing directors or CEOs of e-commerce sites. A freelance writer whose niche is email campaigns for non-profits should feature testimonials from non-profits or their campaign managers about an increase in donations after their latest email sequence launch.

3. Highlights your communication style

People are busy. When they outsource tasks to professionals like you, they are aiming to simplify part of their day. Client testimonials that highlight how open, transparent, and easy communication is with you throughout the project will appeal to many potential clients. This helps them imagine what working with you will be like.

4. Visually appealing formatting 

While everyone’s portfolio is going to be unique and there are thousands of ways to format a client testimonial, here is the best tip to ensure the formatting is visually appealing. Make them easy to read. You want testimonials to stand out from the rest of the page’s content – in a good way.

A practice growing in popularity is including a high-quality photograph of the client with their testimonial. Putting a face with a name increases our tendency to trust them and give more weight to their words. It also adds a visual interest to the text that catches the eye of potential clients. Canva is a useful (and free) tool for creating visually appealing testimonials - they have hundreds of templates to choose from that you can customize with your own images and branding.

Example of a client testimonial made with canva

5. Edited for effectiveness

Attention spans are short and many people scan websites looking for things like headers, bolded text, and testimonials that jump out at them. Readability is important so don’t cram a large quote into a small area. Likewise, most people are turned off by huge walls of text. You can and should edit a testimonial for length, typos, and grammatical errors.

If you have an amazing client success story that cannot be condensed into a bite-size testimonial quote, consider writing a case study instead. This allows you the space to share the full scope of the project, give detailed results, and share more of the client’s words than a sound bite.

Asking for Social Proof: Client Testimonial Request Templates

Now that you understand why social proof is important to freelancers and what effective client testimonials have in common, you may be wondering: How do I request a client testimonial?

Before you make your request, be sure it is the right time. Has the client expressed their satisfaction with your work? Did you just wrap up a project? Are you checking in on performance or conversion improvements with a previous client? Did you have a good working relationship with a long-term retainer client and know their influence could help land another retainer?

If the timing feels right, the relationship with the client is on good terms, and they are satisfied with the results, be bold and ask for a testimonial. Here are a few tried and true methods that you can begin using right away.

Offboarding feedback survey

If your freelance business does a lot of stand-alone or one-off projects, the best way to get testimonials from clients would be to include a feedback survey in your client offboarding process.

First, create a survey using Google Forms or your favorite form-creating software. You don’t want the survey to be too long. It should take your clients 5-15 minutes to complete. 

Include simple questions that:

  • provide constructive feedback that you can apply to improve your services

  • help the clients articulate their positive experiences and highlight specific results

  • ask permission to use “part or all” of their feedback in your public marketing endeavors

  • add an optional file upload for a high-quality photograph to be used with their testimonial

Then include the link to the form as part of your standard wrap-up email. 

“Hi {client}!

It was a pleasure working with you on {insert the client’s project} to {include the client’s business goal}. There are a few things to wrap up before we close this project.

{insert your offboarding procedures here}

If you are happy with the results of our collaboration, I'd love to get a quote from you to use as a testimonial on my website and public marketing endeavors. Please use this Feedback Survey. It should take around 5-15 minutes. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to working with you again in the future.”

The casual request

This approach works well for retainer or longer-term projects and clients you have a good rapport and friendly relationship with. When they provide positive feedback on a call or in an email, that is an excellent opportunity to thank them and slip in a client testimonial request.

Don’t overthink it. Let your personality and natural language shine through. Here is an example of one such casual request sent as a response to a client email. The client had expressed in an email how ecstatic they were with the positive changes they were seeing.

“That is so kind to say! My passion is helping others {reach a specific goal}. I’m glad we could achieve {insert achievement} for you. Would you fill out this feedback and testimonial form in the next few days? It should take around 5-10 minutes. Thanks so much!” 

You can adjust the wording to match your style and testimonial request preference.

“That is so kind to say! My passion is {insert a truth for you here}. I would be honored if you could take a few minutes to write a testimonial about your experience working with me. Your endorsement would mean a lot to me as I grow my business.”

The formal request

You can also send a formal request for a client testimonial. This method works best for higher-paying clients, very busy clients, or projects that are large and complex. Explain why you want their testimonial, how it will be used, and offer them a benefit such as a link to their website. 

Then address any objections they may have. Provide options that appeal to them and remove as many barriers as possible, but allow them the space and freedom to decline.

Send a testimonial template that they can easily fill in with their own words, details, and results. This can be a Google form as mentioned before, a custom document, or questions copied directly into an email.

Offer to write or co-write the testimonial with the client. They can provide their thoughts that you craft into an effective testimonial. Always have the client review and approve the testimonial before you begin using it on your portfolio or in your marketing.

“I stopped asking my clients to write testimonials a long time ago. It was like trying to coax my cat into a bath—painful and fruitless,” writes Ash C., a freelance writer specializing in outdoor and travel, in a recent post on LinkedIn.

She decided to write the testimonials for her clients, and her clients loved it! “In the beginning, removing the responsibility and pressure felt purely tactical, but over time, this simple gesture deepened my relationship with my clients. A win-win situation.”

Ask to interview your client about the project and the successful results on a recorded Zoom or Google Meet. Turn that interview into a written testimonial, short video, podcast, or use snippets to make audio or video testimonials for your site and social media. Both you and your client will need to thoroughly prepare for the interview with specific questions and talking points to ensure you capture the desired outcomes.

Touching base with previous clients

If you have never asked clients for testimonials or are circling back to review the performance of previous work (e.g. for SEO content), you can and should include a testimonial request.

Reach out to your best or most loyal clients. Was there a dream client you worked with months ago? Did you have a loyal retainer client for over a year, but it has been a while since you mutually parted ways? Send them a nice email and ask if they would be interested in providing a testimonial.

Write a case study. Case studies are an amazing tool to highlight not only your skills but the results your work brings to your clients. If you are proud of a particular project you worked on, writing a case study about it provides a great opportunity to get a few quotes. Reach out to the client to let them know you are writing a case study for your portfolio and ask them if they can provide a few sentences about the project.

Showcasing Client Testimonials

Now you have testimonials from clients but what do you do with them? Social proof can be used in your social media posts, marketing endeavors, in your proposals, and especially in your online writing portfolio. Here are a few real world examples of how testimonials can be displayed on your website.

Group and feature

Group client testimonials together in a featured section on your home or services page to leverage social proof in your favor.

Our homepage here at Writer’s Residence is a great example of this technique in action. We have a catchy but truthful headline, copy that enhances our authority and the credibility of our customers, and then the testimonials themselves.

Writer’s Residence groups client testimonials and features them on the homepage in a section titled Loved by writers worldwide.

Testimonial page

You can create a page on your portfolio dedicated to client testimonials. This allows you to give more space and recognition to your clients. Be sure to give it a relatable page title and include a call to action: either encouraging clients to share their own success stories or leading potential clients to book your services.

The Sunsplash Media Group uses this technique for their social proof. They include their clients’ names, titles, businesses, and logos on a dedicated testimonials page. At the bottom is a friendly call to action for others to share their stories.