When you’re running your business online — particularly a freelance once — you can’t offer those classic contextual clues that brick-and-mortar business would. 

You also know what every visitor knows: that it’s possible to deceive people very heavily through websites, even taking their money for orders that you’ll never fulfil. If you want them to trust that you’re not going to take advantage of them, you need to convince them to trust you.

So how do you do that? Well, this is where trust signals come in. As the name suggests, a trust signal is something online that will give visitors a reason to trust you. In this post, we’re going to look at how freelancers can use trust signals to build their credibility. Let’s begin.

Offer easy contact options

As noted, it’s relatively easy to trust a brick-and-mortar retailer because you know you can go back there if there’s a problem. 

Can the same be said about digital freelancers (or any online business)? 

Not being able to find an effective way of contacting a business can lead to a great deal of frustration — so it’s essential to be easy to contact.

Online businesses and freelancers confident in the ability to provide good customer experiences don’t hide away: they invite people to contact them, knowing that they can resolve any issues that arise. To do this, they provide various contact options, allowing people to reach them via telephone, email, and live chat, to name just a few. They also get their contact pages right (just like these ones highlighted by HubSpot) to optimise clarity.

Above, you can see an example from HubSpot’s roundup. Glossier doesn’t do anything flashy (and live chat is absent), but it does get to the point with a dedicated email address and a battery of social media links. Anyone who needs immediate attention can take to Twitter or Facebook and petition the company there. 

This is something a quality freelancer can easily implement — adding something as simple as a contact page can help drive business. After all, common web pages can be the toughest to get right. On this page you can add links to your social pages, as well as your email address and phone number so potential clients can easily get hold of you. 

Display varied social proof

Client or customer reviews are extremely important because they provide on-site material that visitors are willing to trust, which means they are more likely to enquire about your freelance services and hire you. 

Any online business that doesn’t allow its customers to leave reviews and comments on its products and/or services will struggle to get anywhere — and the same goes for freelancers. Visitors will wonder what they’re trying to hide, and assume that it’s a general lack of quality (or outright fraud).

For example, take a look at this testimonial for Upwork freelance writer Gareth J: 

Image: Upwork 

Collecting testimonials is a great marketing strategy for any freelancer. Once you’ve carried out work for someone and you know they’re happy with the job, there is no harm in asking for a positive quote to showcase the quality of your service. 

Did you write engaging copy for a new website — or perhaps you designed a killer logo for a business’s rebrand? Testimonials are crucial for freelancers to encourage prospective clients, so it’s best to have a dedicated page, placing your positive review at the front and centre of your service. 

Think about external trust signals

What will someone find if they carry out an online search for your freelance business? If they just look up your name to see what they can find (outside of the main business site)? They might see nothing outside of news snippets, or they might find expert reviews and industry roundups.

While it’s true that most useful trust signals are added directly to your freelance site or web page, there are others, and external mentions are classic examples — particularly for freelancers that might struggle to have their claims believed without validation. 

Think about ways to get your name out there into the wider industry and community. For instance, working with other freelancers and tapping into their audiences by contributing insightful blog posts is a great way for a writer or creative to display their valuable knowledge. Perhaps even doing some pro-bono work for local, relevant charities could help market yourself as an expert in your given niche. 

Essentially, you’re ensuring that when prospective clients look you up, they see lots of positive things that indicate you’re the right person for the job.

Focus on your customer assurances

Simply telling people to trust you because you’re worthy of that trust isn’t a good idea. What will that insistence amount to if you let them down? Their reminder that you told them to trust you might not prove very motivational from a legal standpoint, leading them to wonder what the point of you saying it in the first place was.

But online freelancers can — and should — reassure people about the steps they’ve put in place to ensure that their customers have good experiences, even if things go wrong. 

This is where money-back guarantees are so effective. If someone feels confident that they’ll be protected in the event that they have bad experiences (they don’t like the logo you’ve created for them, or the tone of voice of that web page isn’t quite right), they’ll be far more likely to proceed. 

You can also provide relevant stats about things like response times and overall customer happiness ratings — not only making it clear how previous clients have felt, but also offering statements of intent about the standards you’ll continue to reach.

Trust signals are important for any freelancer looking to attract new clients. From offering more contact options to providing tangible customer assurances — this is how you build the credibility of your service in the eyes of prospective clients.