You’ve either just started a business or have had one for sometime now.
And you’re super worried because you have 0 clients or they aren’t coming in as fast as you’d hoped for.
You’re scared that your business will never take off.
I get it.
Starting a business can be super hard and financially draining.
Trust me. I’ve been there.
But gaining clients in advance and being booked out for months can lighten the load and leave you feeling relaxed.
Do you want to be booked out for months with more clients than you can serve?
Well, I have some good news for you.
It’s totally possible!
And none of these tips involve any high-end marketing or money-investing. These are all free methods and require just a little effort on your part.
Basically, you just gotta make the first move.
Let’s jump in!
Affiliate Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links – meaning I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through the links. This money is used to maintain my Blog expenses and feed my beloved cream and chocolate
The 3 Step Process for getting Clients
1. Understand what products and services you offer.
2. Use that to identify your ideal client.
3. Go out there and get ‘em!
Simple isn’t it?
Before you start hunting for clients, you need to understand who your potential client is and what they are looking for.
Easier said than done.
The first two points can be merged into one. Because after a little self-analysis of your Brand and Business, you will be able to create your ideal client profile!
Identifying your Ideal Client
The key to identifying your ideal client/consumer is to see your products/services from their point of view. Basically, you need to stand in your client’s shoes.
Well, not literally.In order to gain clients, you should put yourself in your client's shoes and see your products and services from their point of view. Well, not literally... Click To Tweet
For this, you need to understand what services and products you offer and ask yourself why your client would need it.
These are a few questions that you need to answer.
• How old is your client?
• What is your client’s profession?
• What are they currently struggling with?
• How are you (as a service provider) going to offer the solution?
• What makes you different from everyone else offering the same solution? What sets you apart?
• Where does your client hang out?
• What is your client searching for when they type in a search engine?
These are some of the questions that you need to answer in order to draft your Ideal Client Profile. Do you want the whole list?
Then download the complete Client Profile workbook right here!
By understanding what your dream client is actually looking for, you will be able to offer the solution.
Now, imagine I’m a baker that specializes in baking wedding cakes. Who is my ideal client?
Now that you know how to find your ideal client, let’s dive into how to get clients fast!
Networking to increase your reach
1. Connect with family and friends.
You’ve started a new business and it can be daunting to reach out to new people.
So, what can you do?
Start within your close circle of family and friends.
Simply make some calls or send out some emails introducing your new business and ask them if they require your service (mention what you offer and how you can help them) or know anyone that requires the same.
As an Illustrator, this is exactly what I did. I asked my mum to check if anyone she knew needed an illustration.
Her friend’s daughter required a couple portrait and guess what? I made one! She was so happy with it, that she asked me to design a whole greeting card.
I was able to add that to my portfolio and my couple portraits are currently the highest in demand.
2. Cold email potential clients.
Now, using the previous section of this post, you know who your ideal customer/client is, right?
Make a list of those people and cold-email them.
Before introducing yourself, mention how you found them and what you love about them. Always start an email with a compliment.
Consider this example:
I found you on my Google Search 2 weeks ago when I was searching for marketing material, and I just have to say I love your content. It’s very helpful.
My name is Angela and I am an Illustrator currently living in Bangalore, India. I love telling stories with my art and I’d absolutely love to work with you and create content for your website.
Furthermore, I genuinely feel that my art will help impart some cute comedy and help you reach more young people.
I totally understand how busy you are, and I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this email.
If you’re interested, you can find my work here. [attach website]
This is just an example.
Feel free to fine-tune it before sending it out to your potential clients.
3. Reach out to similar people in a similar line of business
Now, since I provide illustrations, I talk to a lot of clients who are looking to spice up their content.
Meaning the same people would also be looking for graphic designing services or copyrighting services.
So, I make friends with Copyrighters and Graphic Designers. They compliment my services perfectly.
Because if someone needs templates for their social media, I pass along the work to my friend who’s a Graphic Designer.
And they do the same for me!
When people ask them if they know any Illustrators, they point them in my direction.
4. Provide a free service or barter your services for someone else’s.
Do you remember those days when people would trade their cow’s milk for some vegetables?
That was a long, long time ago!
But guess what?
When you’re just starting out, it’s totally common to exchange your services for someone else’s.
You can even ask for a testimonial from them and you can return the favor too! How sweet is that?
5. Piggybacking on an Influencer’s large audience.
Now, if you are a small fish (like me) and want to reach a much larger audience, then offer your services for free to a big fish in a similar field of business.
If the big fish likes your work, he is going to introduce you to his audience thus putting you in front of a large, large audience.
Get my drift?
Write a nice email introducing yourself and what you do. Then offer to contribute your services for free or at a highly discounted rate.
6. Attend Meetups.
I love attending meet ups and speaking at events. I seriously cannot get enough of it.
And this is one of the best ways to meet your potential clients and get good, solid leads.
Initially, it is difficult to open up and be bold.
In the beginning, you needn’t attend meetups as a speaker. You can attend as a guest.
The key is to socialize. Meet people in your field and in similar fields.
Not only is this highly beneficial in earning leads, but you’ll end up learning a lot!
People love to talk about themselves and their businesses. And by listening, you will understand where most people have hiccups.
They will also talk about how they overcame those problems and this is information that you will find highly beneficial and be able to apply in your Business as well.
Getting Old Clients Back
7. Reward clients that keep coming back.
If a client has come back to you again, that means that your client loves your work and finds your process smooth and your work out-of-this-world brilliant.
Reward that client so she keeps coming back.
Give her a discount.
Or give her a nice freebie.
Show that you care. Show them how much you value their return.
When I ordered my Rifle Co Day Planner, I got a nice little coupon that offered me 10% off on some of their merchandise.
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It really brightened my day. I adore their collection and I will always keep coming back for more.
Polishing your Customer Service constantly will take your Business a long way.
8. Follow up with old clients.
If you’ve really enjoyed working with a client, and a few months have gone by, then follow up with that client.
Tell them how much you enjoyed working with them and brief them up with a new service you’ve added to your business recently or ask them if they’re enjoying the solution you’ve offered.
9. Follow up with clients who got lost along the way.
I have had so many clients who’ve told me that they required an illustration and then not replied after I’ve sent my quotation.
I usually wait a week before I send a follow-up email asking if they are still on board and would like to continue with the project.
And 50% of the time, I get a positive answer!
People these days are very busy, and most of the time, we just need little reminders!
Take an example from Insurance Companies.
Just before your policy is going to expire (or 3 months earlier in my case), they call you and bug you till you renew the policy.
Yes, I’m talking to you – car-insurance-man-who-won’t-stop-calling-me.
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Leveraging Social Media
10. Spend time on Facebook Groups
Did I ever mention that I got my first client through a Facebook Group? Yep!
Initially, I joined some Blogging Facebook Groups with the intention of just meeting people in the same boat as me but I ended up getting clients and I was booked for 2 months at a stretch within 11 days of joining the group.
Everyday, I spent 2-3 hours on the group answering people’s questions and just being helpful. Additionally, I have a lot experience designing websites and graphic designing, apart from illustrating.
So, this was a great way to get my name out there.
Eventually, people started to notice me and I became popular for answering related questions.
And whenever people asked for designers/illustrators, I (in a very non-spammy manner) told them what services I offer, how I can get them from point A to point B and included a link to my portfolio. I even went one step further and emailed them.
When I saw a request for a service I didn’t provide, I’d drop someone else’s name in it.
Remember how I talked about becoming friends with people in similar lines of Business?
This is where you go the extra mile to help your online buddies.
And similarly, my name was also dropped around a lot by my friends when someone asked for “an illustrator.”
So, the key is to hang out where your ideal clients hang out! If you’re an Illustrator, you can hang out in groups where book authors hang out, because there will be a lot of people who write children’s books and are looking for illustrators!
11. Answer Questions on Quora.
I recently started a Quora account and I’m hooked.
It’s more addictive than 9Gag or FML.
I find it such a powerful learning tool. And people use it to (you guessed right) gain clients!
And I noticed that people were using Quora to answer questions and show their expertise. It’s somewhat similar to the strategy I discussed using FB groups.
On Quora however, you get to earn trust and build relationships and you’ll make tons of friends.
12. Post on Instagram.
Okay, this one is by far one of the best methods I’ve used to gain clients.
I simply advertise a discount on my Instagram Story for a certain type of Illustration. You can also limit the number of people you take. So I usually write “10 slots left” or “15 slots left” to encourage people to act fast.
I don’t usually like to take more than 10-15 clients at a time. Take as many people as you feel comfortable taking.
Instagram is perfect posting WIPs of your work and your portfolio pieces! This really helps get the ball rolling.
Another great idea is to encourage clients/customers to share your work and tag you or using your specific hashtag. You can even hold a contest!
This works great for products you might be selling in your store – like merchandise or books.
Basically, the best photo wins a prize. You can either give away a digital freebie or send them a physical gift.
13. Use Pinterest to promote your work.
Pinterest is all about vertical, beautiful images. Yes, people actually judge the book by its cover on Pinterest.
The prettier your images, the better your click-through rate. And the better the click through rate, the better your traffic.
So, I spend a hell lot of time designing my Blog Featured Images and pins, especially for my services.
This is a pin I designed a month before Mother’s Day and uploaded it to Pinterest. A seasonal pin, I know. But it gained enough traction and I was able to get clients from this very pin.
Now, for designing my pins, I personally use Photoshop or Canva when I’m feeling a little lazy.
P.S. Bluchic has a gorgeous set of Canva Social Media Templates you can use to create your graphics.
And the trick is to create images for every blog post you have, as well as your services. A lot of designers upload their work on Pinterest. And it’s breathtaking.
People use Pinterest for inspiration, and that’s how you can leverage Pinterest.
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How to use your own Blog to keep getting clients
The benefits to having your own blog are tenfold.
It’s Creative Freedom.
Nowadays every company or brand needs to have a website, otherwise they don’t exist. Finding customers/clients for your business without a website is super, super hard because we live in the digital age.
14. Write blog posts for people who are your potential clients.
Since my audience is looking to spruce up their online image or start a business in the online world. I try and write posts trying to solve problems they might be having.
Your potential client is looking for the answer to her problem on a search engine.
She comes across your blog.
She finds your post so helpful and thorough that she starts reading more.
And eventually she realizes that you are what she needs to fulfill a certain gap in her business and she hires you.
By writing blog posts on the topic that you excel at, you are attracting potential clients to your website because you are flaunting your expertise.
Before you start pumping out posts, take your time and evaluate your goals before creating a definitive blog content plan.
Sort of like this guy, here.
but without all the cockiness…
If you find it difficult to make time for blogging, you can read my post – 27 hacks to become an ultra productive blogger!
15. Leverage the power of email-marketing.
No one does this better than Meera Kothand.
I’ve been reading her blog like a hounddog for a whole month now and I’m floored. She is super supportive and sweet and replies patiently to every one of my comments that are filled with questions.
And yes, I ask her a lot of questions.
She is the Queen of Email Marketing.
Or should I say, hero?
And if you haven’t started building your mailing list yet, please start right away. Because you never know when a social media can cave in by changing its algorithm or closing down completely.
Social Media is unpredictable.
But your email list, is yours alone. You will have a loyal set of subscribers whom you can email anytime talking about your blog posts, your products or your services.
Not only does it keep people coming back to your website for more and more, but also helps establish your brand and keep you on track.
Personally, I tend to work harder and more consistently because I know that I have a lot of people waiting to read my blog posts.
Additionally, I use ConvertKit as my email marketing service. And I feel it’s the best email marketing service on the internet right now. In this post, I describe how I’ve set up automated sales funnels that help me make $600 a month with my digital products.
And being a proud affiliate for Convertkit, I can give you a free trial here!
Go on, grab that free cookie!
So, what are you waiting for?
Start creating opt-ins and tap into this gold mine, pronto. You can read all my favorite ways to market your Blog for free.
16. Make your Website client-friendly.
Now if you want to smoothen the client flow process, then make sure you have a Services/Work With Me page on your Website.
The second people land on your website, they should know what you do as a freelancer.
Like I said before, we live in the digital age. We are impatient and are used to getting everything at lightning speed.
So, the moment we land on a website, we expect to get answers and fast!
If we don’t find what we are looking for in 5 seconds, we go back and go to the next option provided to us in the Search Engine.
Yes, we are that picky.
So, spend some time optimizing your home page, about page and your services page so you can start attracting your ideal clients. It should communicate what you do effectively.
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17. Write an eBook.
I’m currently working on an eBook for creative people. Because, my ideal clients are creative people in different creative industries.
Writing an eBook helps establish your expertise on the topic at hand. This will help you reel in clients faster.
You can either give it away for free in exchange for people’s emails, or sell it on your website. Feature it on prominent locations of your website.
When people buy the book, or download it for free, you know that they’re interested in the topic. So you can put them in an email sales funnel and pitch a product or a service to them at the end.
So, that’s pretty much how sales funnels work.
You can read my post on how I set up my sales funnels using ConvertKit here.
And that brings us to the end of this long, long list.
Now, don’t go with all 17 at once. You will burn yourself out. Pick out 2-3 strategies and take it one step further by charting out a plan and working diligently on them.
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Over to you!
Which strategy is your favorite, and why? Let me know in the comments below.
Below are some of my favorite points in a cute little infographic. If you enjoyed reading this post, please take a moment to pin this post to Pinterest. I’d really, really love that! 😀