Depending on what type of services you’re offering this may be one page on your website or two separate pages.
Some services won’t really need so much of a “portfolio” to show visual representation of your work. And sometimes it just makes sense to pair the visual example with the testimonial from the client on that project, so they end up together on a single page.
If you’re just starting out you may not have many examples and testimonials to share, and that’s perfectly okay. There are a few things you can do so that you’ll have something on the page.
One option is to work up some mock project examples to show the work you’re capable of and comfortable doing. This works especially well if you’re offering graphics or design customization, or anything that is very visual in nature. You can create demonstration versions of your work and put those on your portfolio page until you have some client examples to show.
You could also offer a few discount packages to friends, local businesses, or even family members so that you’ll have some projects to work up and show off your skills as part of your new portfolio. You can ask for character testimonials that speak to the type of person you are and not any specific project.
Why do you want testimonials?
It’s the social proof that everyone is always talking about, a virtual thumbs-up that says you’re good at what you do.
It really does make potential new clients more comfortable when they’re checking out your profile online before they reach out to you, they see others saying you did great work and as a result they feel encouraged to contact you to help them.
It helps to push away the doubts lingering in the back of their mind, especially if their first adventure in outsourcing. It boosts your credibility ten-fold and they suddenly see you in a different way, as someone they need and want to work with.
But, that’s not all testimonials do for you as a service provider.
Testimonials also let you know how you’re doing. When you’re working mostly solo it’s easy to get lost in the details of what you’re doing and just keep going with the flow. Getting feedback from clients can be extremely helpful in growing your business because it helps you to constantly improve and tweak your services.
That’s value and insight you’re not going to get anywhere else. Don’t just slap the testimonial on a page of your website; use what you learn from the client, iterate your processes and workflows as necessary to improve, grow, and shine.
How and When to Ask for a Testimonial
A lot of folks get hung up on this part, they feel awkward asking and they don’t want to impose or scare a client off if they haven’t offered it first. Don’t worry, take a deep breath and relax, because the truth is most people really don’t mind at all. It’s quick, easy, painless, and often clients are more than eager to let you know when you’ve done a great job.
In fact, it’s generally something we all mean to do when we like a product or a service, but we forget to do because we’re busy and we’re juggling a million things in our fast-paced lives. Think about the last time you meant to leave a review for a restaurant, a store, or a service provider, and then you forget… and then you remembered, and then you forget again.
It happens to a lot of us. I know I don’t remember unless I write myself a note to do it, and even then sometimes I forget that I wrote myself a note because it’s floating around in my tote bag.
It’s just a conversation like any other conversation. Don’t stress over it so much. We get inside our own head and forget to just talk with our clients, we’re often in our own way. Even when we think, “I totally rocked this project,” we’re humble and we’re afraid to toot our own horn or appear as boastful to our clients.
When you catch yourself thinking the self-limiting thoughts, stop, take a moment to recognize that you’re having those feelings, and then shift yourself in a new direction. You are awesome and you did totally rock that project. Go chat with your client about it, get the testimonial, and most importantly be proud of the work that you’ve done. Always.
So how do you ask? You just do it, politely of course.
Generally speaking, at the end of a project is a good time to ask, while things are fresh and top of mind for both you and the client. It’s also the easiest time to ask.
You can drop them a note with the wrap up details of the project letting them know you enjoyed working with them and ask them how they liked everything, etc… and when they let you know, just say something like, “Would you mind if I quoted you on my testimonial (or portfolio) page about this project?”
You can ask questions survey style, or even set it up as an actual survey, and ask two or three quick questions at the end of project. Include the survey when you send your invoice at the end, or if clients are prepaid for your services include the survey with your final project details.
Try to keep the survey short. Three to five questions seems to be a good number to keep it informative but without taking up too much time for the client providing the answers.
Some sample questions you might consider for a survey:
- Were your project needs met?
- Did the service meet your expectations?
- Was there anything you felt could be improved?
- Would you recommend this service to a friend?
- Did using our service save you time or reduce obstacles?
Some Tools to Help You Gather Testimonials
If you’re invoicing with Freshbooks, they added a reviews feature. When you send the invoice you just check off a box and it will ask the client to leave a review for you, along with a star rating system and space for them to write a message. That’s easy and done, no excuse to not ask for a review there.
If you’re using any other invoicing and accounting program, many of them allow you to customize the message to your client when they receive the invoice. Drop a little note in there and just ask for feedback on the services provided.
Social media; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn
Don’t forget about social media connections with your clients. Some of the best testimonials and reviews pop up on social media unexpectedly! Add those to your site, too.
With WordPress it’s super easy to add Facebook and Twitter mentions by copying the individual URL of the mention and pasting it into the text editor view. When you preview/publish the social media will show up complete with profile image. To get the individual post URL, just click on the date/time stamp.
Magically turns into this:
Absolutely, unequivocally recommend @retta719 for transcription. We send her all of our transcription for a reason!
— Derek Featherstone (@feather) April 20, 2013
yep @retta719 to save the day with amazing transcripts of my 200mph speech!! Looking for transcription? She's one of my fave!
— Carrie Wilkerson (@CarrieWilkerson) December 2, 2011
Best transcriptionist on the planet is @retta719 — bar none. She totally rocks. 'Nuff said.
— Mark Mason (@LateNightIM) August 13, 2012
.@retta719 Thanks for another great transcript! You make my life so much easier 🙂
— Shannon Stoltz (@shannonstoltz) June 15, 2010
— Erica Cosminsky (@cosminsky) April 25, 2010
And those are working follow buttons, everything is clickable.
It works for Facebook URLs, too. The posts will even bring images with them, like this shining star Karon left for me in her message 🙂
If someone recommends you on LinkedIn and leaves a review, you can link to that, include a screenshot of it, or copy the text over to your testimonials page with their information.
The SpeakPipe Plugin
Get a voice testimonial! Using the Speakpipe plugin you can have a tab on the side of the site for people to leave you a voice message. Those messages could be testimonials. If you want to do this, just let the client know that they can record their testimonial via the tab if that’s quicker and easier for them than writing it out.
Then you can transcribe the text of the testimonial and display it on your page. You can include the audio version along with the text if you want to, but make sure you get the okay from the client to do that. If they’re recording a voice message as a time-saver they might not want the recording posted.
Video Testimonials via Facebook Live or YouTube
These are a little more difficult to get, because they take a bit of time and the giver would need to be comfortable with video. But, in some cases they’re also easier to get because a lot of people are doing video everything all the time these days and it’s their preferred format of communication. Likewise, I would transcribe these and include that with the video on your page.
After You Receive the Testimonial
Make sure you get their information; ask if they’d like a URL listed with their name, make sure you have their name listed the way they would like, and maybe request a photograph to include next to the testimonial as well.
Most importantly, say thank you. Thank them publicly if they mentioned you on social media. If you have the client’s mailing address, send them an actual thank you card. Consider emailing them a relevant freebie or a discount to save on their next project working with you.
Where to Put Testimonials and Portfolio Examples
As mentioned at the beginning of this section, you might have one page, you might have two pages, you might just have testimonials sprinkled throughout your website. I’m a huge fan of using testimonials all throughout the website.
You might feature a few of your favorite client testimonials on your homepage instead of on your portfolio page. That way when someone comes to your website that’s one of the first things that they see is that you have happy customers.
You could also scatter them around on the different pages of your website, just have one or two at the bottom of each page so that there’s a little bit of variety and the testimonials are there sending a message on every page no matter where someone lands when they come to your site.
Another thing that I’ve seen recently on quite a few websites for services is having various testimonials in the sidebar throughout the site. If you’re using WordPress and you have multiple pages and a sidebar on either the right or left side of the website you can put a little widget there that has a few client testimonials in it.
Some Examples of Testimonial and Portfolio Pages:
Some Things to Remember:
Don’t EDIT testimonials. If you want something changed or need a shortened version, you should ask the client if it’s okay. That said, don’t be afraid to use those long testimonials – they can be very powerful things.
Don’t be afraid to just ask. You did a good job, your client is happy, there’s nothing wrong with talking about it and asking them if they were happy with the services provided.
It’s just a conversation.
Monitor social media for mentions and positive comments that you can use on your testimonial page.
Use the feedback you get from clients to grow your business and improve your service offerings over time.
Don’t forget to say thank you!
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Homework and Action Steps:
- Ask a client for a testimonial.
- Ask another service provider you’ve worked with for a testimonial.
- Start gathering testimonials and sharing portfolio examples on your website, either in a separate section, on the homepage, in the sidebar, or all of the above.
If you KNOW that you really want to create a virtual assistant business that you love and you’d like an all-in-one solution to get the resources and support you need to get this business started -at a price you can afford-
join us in the VA Startup Mastermind!
This is a small group of folks who are just getting started with their virtual assistant services business online. There are weekly accountability posts, loads of resources, and so much more being added to the group on a regular basis. You can post any time to get feedback or ask questions about anything you need help with to get your business off the ground and growing.