Is Your Website Referral-Worthy?

editorial business topics

Sometimes I need to turn down projects that come my way. In these cases, I like to provide the potential client with a few referrals to editors who may be interested in the work. I try to refer projects to editors I know personally, because I trust them to do good work.

When that’s not possible, however, I send out a call for editors in Slack groups and on LinkedIn. I ask them to comment with their website URLs if they’re interested in the project.

I don’t ask potential editors to provide me with any other information, because a quick look at their website usually tells me:

  • What type(s) of editing they do
  • How professional they are (and how seriously they take their business)
  • How trustworthy they are
  • How clients can get in touch with them

Referrals are based on trust, and in today’s online world, websites establish that trust. If an editor’s website is clean, well designed, and professional looking, I’m happy to refer them to a potential client. If their website is unprofessional looking, contains typos, or doesn’t have a single photo of them, I can’t trust the editor enough to refer them.


1. A photo of you

Not having a photo of yourself on your website is like showing up to a networking event with a paper bag over your head. If you don’t have a decent headshot on your website, get one—it’s often the deal-breaker for people looking to work with or refer projects to you. Don’t have the funds for professional photos right now? Have a friend take one. Any photo is better than no photo. Show us you’re a real person.

2. Your bio

After they land on your homepage, a potential client will often go straight to the About section of your website. A brief bio that provides a) basic information about your background and b) a glimpse into your personality goes a long way toward getting a referral.

3. A list of your services

Your website should include your list of basic services, or at least some verbiage explaining what types of materials you edit and what your specialties are. Whether or not you decide to list your rates, clients and referrers will need to know what you can do.

4. A clear way for clients to get in touch with you

This seems like a no-brainer, but I often come across websites that don’t include any contact information. Don’t make this mistake! Make it easy for potential clients and referrers to get in touch with you through your site.

Bonus: Client testimonials

How often do you look up restaurant reviews on Yelp and Google to decide where to go out to eat? Testimonials are your reviews—and the ones you use on your website will all be positive. Use them! They’re a simple, powerful way to establish trust.


If you don’t have a website, you’re failing to provide an easy way for potential clients or referrers to see if they can trust you. It’s simple (and cheap) to create a decent website using tools like Squarespace and WordPress, so if you’re actively seeking referrals, a website should be your number-one priority—no excuses. I don’t refer projects to editors who don’t have a website, and I know many other editorial colleagues who feel the same way.

If you’re not interested in referrals right now, keep in mind that your situation might change in the future. Even the most established clients can suddenly decide to switch editors or outsource editing to another country (it’s happened to me!). Your website is the best safety net you can have if you suddenly need to find new work.


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