The 5 essential elements for writing a banging testimonial

February 22, 2023


With example copy and free template

Your recent project that had you collaborating with a freelancer has come to the end. You’re happy with the work they’ve done and paid the invoice. All that’s left to do is write the testimonial that your lovely freelancer politely asked for.

Ah, fuck.

It’s not that you don’t want to write them a review. But every time you try to write it, it suddenly feels like a huge task so the five minutes you put aside turns into half an hour. The problem is you’re just not sure what to say. You want to sound positive. And appreciative. But not like you’ve shoved your tongue so far up their arse you’re tickling their tonsils.

I get it. I really struggle with walking the line between professional appreciation and weird, stalker-level adoration. But there are a few how to write a testimonial rules we can follow to make it a lot easier. (And less creepy.)

In this guide you’ll find:

  • great reasons for giving testimonials (consider this your motivation)
  • the five essential elements every testimonial needs, whether it’s written, recorded or videoed
  • a testimonial template that you should 100% rip off and use every time you have to write one of these bloody things
  • tips and etiquette on where to post your review
  • BONUS: a message you can use if you want to ask for final approval.

There’s lots to cover, so let’s crack on.

First, kudos to you for doing this

Small businesses and freelancers like me, value testimonials more than a well-stocked snack cupboard. This is because our potential customers read testimonials like yours. They use them when deciding whether to work with one business or freelancer over another.

Essentially, this is word of mouth marketing, which is a valuable, powerful form of marketing. It’s thought that 90% of people are likely to trust a recommended brand, even if that recommendation has come from a stranger. So what I’m trying to say is that your valuable testimonial can make the difference between our snack cupboards being well-stocked or a bit bare.

Now that I’ve ladened your shoulders with the weight of this task we can dive into how to write a testimonial that does your much-loved freelancer a favour.

The 5 essential elements of testimonial writing

Writing testimonials is easy when you know the formula. Include these five key elements and you’ll write a helpful, insightful review every time.

1. The name of the business or person you’re reviewing

Clarifying the name of the business, or person within the business that you worked with, helps the reader. It makes it crystal clear who you’re reviewing. This is particularly useful if you worked with one or two people within an agency. Also, it gives you a really easy opening line, which is the hardest part. (You’ll see what I mean in a moment.)

2. The service or product you used or bought

If the freelancer or business you worked with has lots of packages or different services name the thing you use so the reader has context. They may be considering buying the same service/product and be extra interested in what you have to say. Naming the product/service also helps the person or business you’re reviewing. They can then link your review to that specific product or service. This is helpful if or when, they want to promote that one service.

3. The problem you faced and the fix you found

In this part of the review, discuss why you needed to hire someone. Answering the following questions will help with this.

  • What challenge were you facing within your business that meant you needed to hire this person or business?
  • What attracted you to the product or service you eventually booked?

4. How you felt during the project

Pick out two or three things you especially enjoyed during the project. You could talk about how it was managed, the cost, or even how easy the person was to work with. Here are a few examples from my own client testimonials.

  • “The whole experience was easy and strangely exciting…”
  • “…she seemed to really care about the project and brought a lot of personality and fun to it.”
  • “The detailed research that goes into every one of the blogs really shows. The copy she sends us is clean and ready to post.”
  • “She asked excellent questions about our business and customers to get a better understanding of content and voice and it paid off.”

It really can be any aspect of the project that stuck with you.

5. The outcomes and your recommendation

Finish your review by saying what has changed since using the product or service. These can be emotional or physical changes, or stats and analytical evidence.

A note on stats and data: If you have a before and after snapshot, share them. If you can’t, no problem. Simply say there’s not been enough time to see the benefits.

Finish your review by saying who you would recommend the business, freelancer, product or service for. For example, ‘businesses who need clear copy,’ or ‘those who want a quick and affordable solution to X’.

Testimonials don’t need to be essay-length

They can be. If you want. Longer reviews give the reviewee more to play with. They might not publish your entire write up, but pick and choose the sweetest soundbites for their marketing. But given how tough it’s been to get to this point, I’m assuming you want a short-n-sweet approach. Something you can smash out in 15 minutes and move on with your day.

In this case, keep it to 100 words or less. This is a good, scannable length, but gives enough room to include enough detail that it’s useful to others.

The short and sweet testimonial template

My clients are very busy people. And I appreciate that asking for a review eats into their time. But I really want the review. So I try to make the process as simple as possible. I give them a template with blanks to fill in. You can use this too.


The outcome of working with [NAME] has been [RESULT OR FEELING]. What I liked best about working with [NAME] was [PLEASE INFLATE THEIR EGO] and the whole experience was [ADJECTIVE]. 

I’d recommend [NAME] to businesses who need [SOMETHING YOU VALUED MOST]. 

Hate writing?

Although I’ve focussed on writing a testimonial, you don’t have to type it. If you really hate writing, then scribble down a few dot points that cover the essential testimonial elements then record it as a voice note. Or even as a video.

Where to leave your testimonial

Has the person or company you’re reviewing sent you an email asking for your testimonial? If so, check if they’ve specified where they want the review posting. If this information isn’t given, then ask where your review will serve them best.

Some freelancers and small business are shy and hate asking for reviews. I’ve tried to encourage them to be as shameless as me, but it doesn’t always work. You taking the lead may come as a huge, appreciative relief to them.

The most common (and useful) places for leaving a review are:

  • LinkedIn
  • Google Business Profile
  • emailed directly back to them
  • the platform which you hired them through
  • directly on their website – if they have this enabled.

Approving your review

Sending your testimonial via email rather than leaving it on a third-party platform such as Google or LinkedIn, means it could be lightly edited before it goes live. Typos, grammar, formatting—these are little things your freelancer may naturally tidy up if necessary. But no matter how small the changes, it’s always a good idea (and perfectly acceptable) for you to ask to see the finished version before it’s posted.

Here’s how to ask for copy approval.

Hi [NAME],

Thanks again for asking me to write a testimonial about our recent project.

If you’ve made any changes, can you please send me the final version before it goes live? This is just so I’m fully aware of what’s being published under my/my business’ name.

Thanks so much.


I’ve given this message a conversational, straight-talking tone. Feel free to change some of the language if this doesn’t sound like you. One element I would urge you to keep is the brevity and clarity. You have every right for final approval on copy that has your name or your business’ name attached to it.

​Who can you review?

Now you know the essential elements that go into writing a testimonial, you’re ready to write that top-notch review for the freelancer, sole trader or business you recently worked with.

Even if you’ve not been asked for a review directly, maybe there’s someone you can show a little love to? Testimonials and reviews—especially on platforms such as Google—are very valuable to small businesses. (Remember: well-stocked snack cupboard = happy business owner.) So if you have a spare 15-minutes, write a few lines for the pizza restaurant you went to last week, give a shout-out to the friendly baristas at your local café, or recommend the writer you hired to help with your marketing. 😏 



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