Starting a business is easy, but getting your first client is another story.
I’m going to tell you exactly how to get clients for a new business. Additionally, these same strategies work for up and coming or well-established businesses.
For reference, my 3-year-old business’ schedule is so packed full right now that I’ve been able to back off my own marketing “madness” and focus more on my existing clients (because, for now, I’m only one person).
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Here’s what not to do
If you’ve been blogging for a while and haven’t reached your first $500 month, you may find yourself discouraged.
Listen. Don’t be discouraged. Blogging takes a lot of time to become successful!
In fact, one of my current clients has been blogging for more than two years, and upon hiring me to fix their SEO, recently skyrocketed their income to nearly $175,000 per MONTH. So without getting caught on a bunny trail, let’s just say that they are so happy they didn’t give up over the last couple of hard years.
Okay, so, don’t get discouraged within the first couple years of your starting your businesses/blog. It’s not easy!
In the meantime, whether you’re building a residual income or an online service, you need clients. You need to actively earn your income. Passive income does not happen overnight. You must work for it (I can’t stress this enough).
Related: How to Make Money Doing Nothing
10 Ways to Get Your First Clients (for New and Established Businesses)
So here’s how to get clients once you’ve established a service you can provide.
1. Be the expert in your trade
What does it mean to be the “expert” in your trade? When someone has a question, answer it for free. Just because you give an answer away without charging for it, doesn’t mean you’re putting yourself out of business!
I’ve seen people refer back to their paid service or product in direct response to a specific question, and there’s nothing tackier. If your service or product is well-rounded, answering a question specifically will impress others and they will consider buying your service/product for the additional value it will provide.
There are multiple ways to become an expert in your service. I use two main methods. First, starting this blog gave me a platform to create content about my trade (SEO, growing a blog, editing, etc.). Content marketing is one of the best ways to get eyes on your services and products. The second method I use is networking (see number 2 below).
Take Action: Answer questions within your area of expertise to build your brand and show your knowledge. Follow these steps to start your own blog and create content that displays your expertise.
2. Network network network
How can you be an expert in your trade if you’re not networking to show your expertise? Join active Facebook groups and online forums where you are on the expert side (not the receiving end). You can admit to your weaknesses while still being an expert in your target area.
I can’t tell you how many times the questions I answer online lead to solid paying clients. And even when they don’t, I still use networking to put my name and skills out there to the right target audience.
Take Action: Actively network in social media groups, get to know potential clients and be available when they need your skills.
3. Show your worth with results
Whether your best results are from previous clients or one of your own projects, make sure to show your value. You can talk about offering all kinds of services, but if potential clients can’t see the ROI (return on investment), then they won’t invest money into your service. You need to show your clients what you’ve previously done and how it has directly affected income.
Take Action: Start gathering previous examples to show future clients the results you can potentially provide.
4. Know competitor pricing
Without fantastic results to show your value, you can’t set prices above your competitors’ pricing. Even when you have the portfolio to flaunt, you still need to be aware of competitor pricing because they probably have great examples, too. Make sure to do your research and set your prices right.
Setting your prices correctly goes both ways. Setting them too low could devalue your service and turn potential clients away from your service.
Take Action: Research competitor pricing and set your own prices according to your findings.
5. Get referrals
If you’ve done work for someone in the past (official paid business or not), then reach out to them for referrals. If they valued your work, they will refer their friends or other businesses to you, or even give you more work themselves.
Of course, if your services are very niche, a previous client will not want to refer you to a direct competitor. I’ve had a client tell me, “When you find a good thing, you don’t want others to know.” I can understand the meaning behind this statement which is why I don’t typically work for direct competitors to establish trust.
Take Action: Contact previous clients and ask for referrals (or additional work they could perhaps provide).
6. Get testimonials
If you’re struggling to get referrals from a past client, you may be able to at least squeeze out a raving testimonial! There’s no shame in asking for a few words about your previous work. Be sure that they are happy with your work before asking for a review, and do not ask immediately upon delivering your service. Give them time to see results.
Take Action: Contact previous clients and ask for testimonials describing your services.
7. Free offers and discounts (use sparingly)
Be careful about giveaways as you can end up giving far too much away with no benefits in sight. But if you really need to add to your portfolio, consider offering a discount or a free service. Even a local family business or friend can give you a nice review and some fancy screenshots of stats to later display in your portfolio.
Take Action: Offer a free digital product or service, treat it as if you’re getting paid and use the results to get referrals and reviews.
8. Build relationships
It’s common to speak with a potential client multiple times before they’ll hire you. People want to know and trust you before they pay you money. Usually, referrals and past reviews will expedite the relationship building process, but that doesn’t mean you can skip this altogether.
Take Action: Offer your expert answers or a free consultation so that potential clients can get to know you and understand where your expertise lies.
9. Pitch your services
Sometimes, business officials are a little distracted with their own schedule that they forget to even look for the service you provide. Additionally, they may prefer actual employees for something you could do remotely. Typically, hiring an independent contractor will cost a business owner less money if the price is right.
Take Action: Reach out to potential clients and present your value. Tell them you could do the job of an employee better and cheaper (if that’s the truth).
10. Get seen
List your services on platforms like Fivver, Freelancer or even Craigslist. You may not earn quite as much when using a platform like these, but a little less money in your pocket is better than no money. Plus it helps get your name out there to later ask for more referrals and testimonials.
Take Action: List your services on various platforms to increase your chances of getting hired.
Getting Clients Doesn’t Need to be Difficult
It may sound cliche, but it really doesn’t need to be complicated for you to get clients. There are many businesses and individuals who need the services you offer. The problem is that they can’t find you. Instead of waiting for clients to knock on your door, start taking action. You’ll be one step ahead of your competition if you use these tips to get clients!