Getting referrals for your freelance business

Present 2

Working full-time for an employer may seem to put a damper on your freelancing business, but maybe it’s a secret weapon in disguise. Your employer may be a valuable source of referrals, little gifts that can go a long way toward enhancing your freelancing career.

Here are some tips for making your job work for you (as long as your employer doesn’t mind that you moonlight).

  • Your current employer may have hundreds of contacts, so be sure to ask for referrals. Even if you aren’t writing at your job, let your boss know that you are looking for new business. Give them your brochure, along with links to your online portfolio, website, and blog.
  • If your job doesn’t entail writing or editing, try to find opportunities to showcase your skills anyway. As a secretary, I’m often making copies, so I find time to scan outgoing documents for errors…a win-win situation for everyone.
  • Above all, do your best work, whatever it may be, at your current job. Even though you’re looking for writing referrals, your boss will be more inclined to help you if you went above and beyond to help them.

I also came across a great article over at Freelance Switch that discusses more ways to increase referrals.

How have you gotten referrals for your business? Has a current or former employer helped you?

36 Responses to “Getting referrals for your freelance business”

  1. Mickymar says:

    Great tips. Would have never thought of a current boss being a resource.

  2. Eren Mckay says:

    Those are some great ideas. The other thing that’s great to do is to make friends. Skype has been a great tool for me to make these connections.
    We can show our work to our friends and let them know we are looking for jobs.
    All the best,
    Eren

    Eren Mckay’s last blog post..Kids Bible Sermon overcoming laziness & a slothful sluggard spirit

  3. Yes, this is a great idea. Hopefully your boss is supportive of your freelancing work, otherwise this might not work out as well.

  4. I agree that good working ethics always pay a lot in the end. I had a boss who sent me a surprise gift after learning that I’ve done some extra mile to finish a task quickly.

  5. Triphow Ling says:

    Nice boss you got. Reason I quit my full-time job a couple of years back was that my boss didn’t take kindly to my moonlighting.

    But you’re right that the employer is a goldmine for referrals and building contacts. YOu can meet lots of people and you enver know where one of these contacts might come in useful.

  6. john detitta says:

    Thanks sharing good tips. Extra skills are really matter when you want to go ahead.

  7. Thank you for this interesting tips. I am a webdesign freelancer and search for referrals. Now i will try your tips!

    Thanks!

  8. These are great tips. Depending on the topic you are writing about your current job could even be part of your sales pitch (because it paints you as an expert on your topic, for example).

    Wil from Spot Cool Stuff’s last blog post..8 Alternative Powered Motorcycles

  9. Great tip! That didn’t cross my mind…

  10. Great little tidbits here, thanks for posting! Too many people neglect the power of referral and how much business it can bring you.

    All it takes is mentioning it and who knows, maybe a co-worker or your boss could open up doors for you and your business.

    Networking is money, as always.
    Great post!

    Mr. Google Cash’s last blog post..Google Cash – How I make $6,000/month working online part-time!

  11. BMB says:

    Yeah, gotta think it depends on the boss. If they are a referral source, you should tread carefully.

  12. Stella says:

    Yes, get referral for a part time job from your full time employment is just perfect! Especially if you are well respected in your full time job, even more people would be willing to help. I am a real estate agent….If I did have another job and did really well with that, WOW! Actually, not a bad idea!

  13. Using your current job as a source of referrals can be understandable especially when your boss can see your dedication as an employee.

  14. Alex says:

    Nice tips although I think for many – asking for referrals from employer might be a bit too much. It just might force a freelance to become full time sooner than expected!

    Alex’s last blog post..3 Mistakes That Kill You Blogging To Make Money Efforts

  15. Jason says:

    This is a good article. I never thought of using an employer as a good source of contacts.

  16. Latin Namoro says:

    Just do your best in every thing that you do and referrals will come eventually.

  17. Blake Ipsen says:

    Sounds like you have an AWESOME boss… referrals/contacts for/from and employer is a gold mine for the company usually. Anyone you meet can be a potential business partner/investor in your company. its important to notice these types of things!

    Great ideas!

  18. Nancy says:

    I think most of the bosses will be your referral if are doing good job for him.

    Nancy’s last blog post..Cleveland CG11 Black Pearl Wedge

  19. I consider the third point to most critical i.e.,”do your best work, whatever it may be, at your current job”. i personally had a good experience as an employee as well as an employer wrt the third point.

  20. A Coffey says:

    Good post, I especially like the mention of making sure you put forth quality work. It’s a reflection of what others can expect also.

    Ali Coffey, w/ client referrals blog

  21. Jordan says:

    Well,it depends.It is extremly hard to get your current boss to be your reference in my opinion.

    Jordan’s last blog post..supra shoes-001

  22. Great tips! Thanks for posting.

    chicago web design’s last blog post..Chef Rock Inc.

  23. In my previous job i would keep my own list of contact that came through the business. wo when my boss gave me the flick i had plenty of contacts to help me along the way

    the daily gadget’s last blog post..Retro Mini Handheld NES System

  24. Kirk says:

    aside from having your employer be your little goldmine for referrals, one other source to get your referrals for your freelance business is from your network of friends, who are working for another company, or who know the ‘right’ people…

  25. Good tips. It’s good to find ways to get out there and let people know what you can do. No one will find out unless you tell them. You don’t even have to sell them on yourself. Just tell them about your interests or goals. A lot of people respond to that.

  26. I quit my full time job last year, moved home with my Mom, and started a small freelance business. I pay my own health insurance, and use the income I make with my business to invest more into it. I did not make more than $5,000 for 2007. Should I file taxes? What about State taxes? Also, how does the recent tax rebate affect me? If I don’t file, will I not get the rebate? Thank you!

    Dream Home Plans’s last blog post..Home-the most vital need of your life

  27. Reason, I quit my full-time job a couple of years back was that my boss didn’t take kindly to my moonlighting. But you’re right that the employer is a goldmine for referrals and building contacts.

  28. Yes, get referral for a part time job from your full time employment is just perfect!

  29. Getting referrals is a great way to get consistent business..for sure.
    .-= Jordan@Fusjon´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  30. vijay says:

    Nice to read these tips about getting refferals

  31. Smashing tips – indeed, it’s good to find ways to get out there and let people know what you can do.

    Probably, no one will find out unless you tell them. You don’t even have to sell them on yourself. Just tell them about your interests or objectives.

  32. This is why it’s hard to start a business like this. Most thriving freelance businesses get at least half their work from referrals. You wont be getting referrals day 1.

  33. Amega says:

    Those are some great ideas. Many times people forget the power of getting referrals.
    .-= Amega´s last undefined ..Response cached until Wed 24 @ 5:43 GMT (Refreshes in 11.39 Hours) =-.

  34. Probably, no one will find out unless you tell them. You don’t even have to sell them on yourself. Just tell them about your interests or objectives.

  35. job says:

    You are right, working for someone can indeed be a great source of leads for your freelance business!

    Ive got a friend who has its own computer repair business. He joined internet service provider solely with the goal of getting himself referals. Everytime he installs an internet connection, he leaves his business card on the way out!

    Doing it this way, you get paid to presell (build trust) your service to your future customers : )

  36. Con-Cas says:

    good one! Boss can be of great help, and this also means that you can expand your freelance easily