Since I started working for myself, I’ve wondered if I’d ever reach the stage of feeling comfortable with the amount of work I have. Sure, I’m writing my bottom off at the moment, but what about when this contract’s done and dusted? What happens if my regular clients dry up? Who’ll fund my shoe fetish? Eeep.
It’s crucial to keep working at finding new clients. Even if you’re feeling busy, maybe overwhelmed, keep up a consistent plan to be out there, to improve. and to find new business.
But, how do you find new clients? You can’t create a need that isn’t there. I’m so glad you asked.
#1 Get to Know the Job Boards and Use Them
Yes, this is time-consuming and there will be times when you feel like you’re just trawling through lists of irrelevant postings. But, keep it up. Keep trawling. Job boards are treasure troves once you get to know them and are able to suss out which opportunities are worth pursuing.
#2 Ask Happy Clients for Referrals
It may feel corny, but asking a client that is happy with a completed job to refer you to others is a great way to generate new leads. Simply send your client an email along the lines of, “I really enjoyed working on XYZ project, please let me know how it goes moving forward. I’m looking for new clients, so please let me know if you hear of anyone that could use my writing / dress-making / software developing services at the moment. Thank you and all the best for XYZ.”
#3 Make Contact With Previous Clients You Didn’t Get
If you quoted for a job and never heard back from them, or were declined, follow up in a few months’ time. Ask how the project is going and whether there is anything that you can help with. This isn’t to poach the client from the provider they chose, it’s to be friendly, helpful, and there. Maybe they’ve been disappointed by the provider they went with. Maybe that provider can’t keep up with the demand. Or, maybe they have another project in the pipeline and would like to look at a new provider. You just don’t know.
#4 Partner With Agencies
Agencies tend to be bigger and busier than freelancers and one-man-show businesses. They are excellent resources for referrals. Establish a mutually beneficial relationship with a hotshot agency, and you’re far more likely to keep getting clients referred to you. They may refer the work to you because the client’s budget is too low for them, they don’t have the time for another project, or they don’t have an in-house expert (like a software developer or content writer). To approach an agency, try to speak to the head of business development. Speak candidly and professionally to them about what you can offer and how you want to partner with them.
No-brainer, right? But, many smaller businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs hesitate to spend money that may or may not be fruitful. Still, it’s crucial to make use of the boost options on Facebook and on tools like Google Adwords. These allow you hands-on control of your campaigns as well as tangible feedback regarding their reach.
A blog is a tool to having regular, repetitive contact with your target market; when it’s done right. Write about things that apply to your business but, most importantly, write about things that solve a problem for the reader.
Once it’s posted, share the blog on relevant forums and Facebook groups, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and platforms like GrowthHackers. Link to other companies (if it connects organically to your content) and share these pieces with people that may find them interesting or useful. Be careful not to be a pain, though. Make it well worth their while to read your blog.
Once you’ve gotten into the blogging groove, you can offer guest blogs to larger websites that will accept them. This means that you write a piece that is tailored to them, which they post on their site. They’ll include a link to your blog (or, they should) and a profile on you. This can be great exposure. When approaching sites to accept your guest blog, choose ones that would appeal to the same target market as you, that have a domain authority that is at least 10 higher than yours, and that have good social media stats.
#7 Make Twitter Your Friend
I could definitely improve in this regard. If you search phrases like “hiring a content writer”, “looking to hire fashion designers”, #GraphicDesigner, and so on, you may find companies that have a need right now. This is the perfect time to swoop in with what you can offer them.
#8 Don’t Lose The Interest Shown, No Matter How Fleetingly
If potential clients get onto your website, you don’t want them to leave. At the very least, you don’t want them to leave without a trace. Try to get them to share their email address with you by offering something for free. Again, be careful that things like pop-ups are done in a way that isn’t annoying (a pop-up that just won’t be X-ed, for example). Think of offering a free e-book on how to balance a household budget, a weekly eating plan, or the opportunity for a prize. These are small (or even no) costs to you, but are invaluable in terms of getting their email address to communicate with them in the future.
#9 Get Out There
Depending on the business you’re in, this means different things to different people. It could mean attending trade shows, going to dinner with potential clients, or having a casual glass of wine at the golf club. Whatever the case, find out where you can find potential clients, and go there. When you’re there, be helpful, friendly and polite. Remember that you’re always under the spotlight, especially with the pervasiveness of social media.
#10 Invest in Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is crucial to driving the correct traffic to your website. But, it’s a process, and it requires insight and experience to get it right. Make use of an SEO specialist or do tons of research to make sure that you understand the current trends and how to craft your site to fit in with these. Read here to see what Google says about beginner SEO.
Really, this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to get new clients. But, these 10 steps will be a fantastic start to climbing the high, rewarding mountain of business success. Whatever that mountain is to you.