When I asked for video ideas the other week, Vanessa asked for suggestions for getting new (or first) clients. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to record anything, but I wrote this post in the process of making some notes about how. Bonus! Maybe after this month of daily blogging, I’m a blogger again. So, these are my tips and suggestions for finding your first client or your next client when you’re starting from scratch.
Ask for a referral
If you’re on a mission to find your next client, make sure you ask past and existing clients for a referral to friends or family. Offer an incentive like gift cards or other gifts that will make an effort worth their while. But this section is called ASK for a referral because you need to have that conversation.
‘Hey such and such, I’ve got some space coming up that I’m looking to fill. Do you know anyone looking for a [insert product/service here]??
Starting out and don’t have anyone to act as a referee? Then, ask family and friends to do it. Take some time to talk to your family and friends about your work. Show them and make sure they know what you do exactly, then send them on their way. My family are my biggest referrers of work for my business; friends are a close second.
We have all been members of those groups where week after week, the same question is asked about how to do something, someone looking for a particular service, etc. As frustrating as this can be as a Facebook user scrolling the interwebs.
And no, I don’t mean jumping in and shouting ME, I CAN DO THAT, in every conversation. It’s about being helpful, useful and valuable in those communities so that people remember you when they want someone that does the work you do. A word of caution though, before you dive right into any new Facebook group, make sure you’ve read the rules set by the group Admins. It will undo all your hard work if you put your foot in it over something that had been clearly outlined.
Do what you do best
If you’re a writer, write a blog. If you’re a photographer, start a killer Instagram account. Do what you do best and use it as a platform to let people know that you are for hire. The entire website portion of my business came from people who knew I built and decorated my blog. A strong portfolio of your chosen work is essential in proving to people that you are capable of doing the task. So do what you do best and start creating things while you wait.
You know I have a thing for Facebook and Instagram Ads, and when you find the sweet spot, you can drive a lot of inquiries your way. I can hear the chorus now, Facebook Ads don’t work for me, we tried it once, and it just cost us money with no return.
Awesome. Here’s the thing. Once (heck, ten times) isn’t enough.
Start by getting clear on what your product or service REALLY offers the client. Not just what it does but the outcome they can expect. From there, you craft ads that are targeted and appeal to that customer in that way. Which is, of course, easier said than done.
I find many people give up on this work or don’t spend the time they need to get something to work. When working with ads, you must keep tweaking and reviewing each piece of copy and each piece of content (image or video) until you find the one that WORKS. Get some money behind that, and start looking for the next one. Because nothing works forever, and sooner or later, you’ll need the next best performing thing.
Job Boards, Fiver etc
It might not be glamorous, but sometimes what works is setting up accounts on job boards, gumtree, Facebook Marketplace or Fiver and seeing what business you can drum up. Sure working on Fiver can be a tough slog for not a lot of money, but if you’re building a portfolio of work, you have to start somewhere. Set fair rates, promote yourself when the chance arises, and practice pitching your services and negotiating getting paid.
And bonus for those of us in social media or content creation.
Be a practitioner of the work. Operate on all the social media channels, try things and test them out. Get amongst it, so when the time comes for someone to hire you, you’re ready and raring to go. Just because you’ve hit a dry spell (or are just starting) doesn’t mean that you should let your skills get stale. In fact, that will be the death of you.
Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.
Yay! I had forgotten some of these ideas, so thank you for blogging them. I knew there was stuff I could be doing but that I wasn’t seeing.
Great tips, Melissa, I really need to get my head around FB & IG ads more, I’m useless at them!
Thank you! And yeah, practice makes perfect with that. Just a bit of low cost trial and error, and when something works, jump on it. 😉
Such good advice! You know what’s what!
Thanks, Sam. 🙂
Wise woman. Oh so wise. You are such a great sharer Melissa. Thank you. Denyse #teamIBOT
Wow, thank you Denyse. I’m hoping it helps someone out there make the process of going it alone a little bit easier.
Great tips here Mel. My situation is I don’t know how to market myself properly. I feel like I am too close to my product and can’t explain what I do well enough. I am work on referral based mainly at the moment which is growing well. But marketing – argh!!!
I hear you on that! I’m trying to do a channel trailer for my YouTube channel at the moment, but something I can put on the about me page of this blog. Do you think I can find the words to describe what I do here? It’s tricky.
Someone suggested breaking it right down to tiny small pieces, maybe that will help you. All I ended up with was lots of tiny pieces and no real clear idea.
Great tips but I would add: get OUT OF YOUR OFFICE and go meet people. Networking at business events, workshops, drinkies, whatever is INVALUABLE.
Ooooh, yes!! That’s great advice, I find the same thing when I’m stuck on a blog post. Fresh air and some new ideas from other people are a god send.
Gah. I need to do this but they’re so often on when I’m at work and/or I just don’t want to go before/after work as the day is too long.