There are many articles online discussing how to find your first clients online – however, I found they take up a lot more of your time than what I’m going to share with you below. As you start your new business it’s important to get quick wins on the board to satisfy your hunger.
Don’t get me wrong though, some of the best clients we work with took months and even years to nurture and as a new freelancer or business owner you just don’t have the time to wait.
And likewise as a new business owner you need to get your first client quick. To fuel the business, your own survival, and to keep yourself motivated.
1. Why you need to find your new customers and clients online
Finding new clients online is the best way to grow your business – it doesn’t matter if you’re an accountant, a beautician or stylist, a carpenter, consultant or web developer. It’s possible to find your target market online to start a conversation within minutes.
That’s right, minutes.
And it’s only possible if you do it online.
Speed is the factor here!
After finding the opportunity you must have the right mindset and process in place to increase your chances of securing the client, ie. all the same sales techniques still apply.
The caveat is that the steps below are not sustainable over the long term because it’s not scalable, but as a means to land your first client, it’s pretty nifty.
Here are some other factors why you should be finding your new clients online:
The lifeline of your business
One of the biggest factors that kill small businesses is the ability to consistently and predictably produce new leads, clients, and work in order to survive. That’s what I believe.
Just because you’ve got great bookkeeping or financial management, it doesn’t mean that’s going to put food on the table.
What you need is the flow of new opportunities and leads that will help grow your business so you can reinvest, hire new team members and eventually move from being self-employed to being a business owner. If you don’t have new opportunities and your client decides to leave, you may find yourself in a highly stressed and emotional state. Let’s face it, we all need to be prepared to lose clients, and it’s inevitable.
Being able to quickly fill up your pipeline means you’ll keep your business running for longer (and hopefully for the foreseeable future!)
Everyone is online
It makes sense for you to be in front of your customers, to be where they hang out and that’s definitely online.
Stick to your new year’s resolution
This is pretty straightforward but important to note because research shows that 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February.
When you’re putting in just 15 minute blocks of time to find new clients online, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your new year’s resolution. Success comes by doing things in small chunks and putting the effort in daily.
(I don’t believe in new years resolutions because, why wait till the fireworks go off to start reaching your goal, why not have the fireworks to celebrate what you’ve already achieved in the year?)
2. Best sources of new clients
So now that we have identified that online is the best place to find new clients, it is only just the medium of delivery – the source of the lead is still important to discuss. We look at it much like Google Analytics – What’s the source? What’s the medium? And that’s why I love the digital space because everything is attributable.
Word of mouth & referrals
ReferralCandy states that 92% of people trust the recommendation provided by their friends. In the previous example, it would increase your chances if you knew someone who knew the person looking for the recommendation. Simple as that.
Other forms of word of mouth are reviews (eg. Yelp, Dimmi, Google Reviews), but in this case, since you’re starting a new business then you might not have any. Getting your foot in the door and starting the process of generating reviews is something which I will show you later on.
I cannot recommend this enough – if nurtured and well looked after, the opportunities from your partnerships can grow your business for years to come. This could be something as simple as a referral program.
The most important thing to remember is a partnership should be mutually beneficial, so make sure you find out what your partner sees value in – it doesn’t have to be new clients for them, it could just be a one-time monetary incentive.
As a starting point I thought about the service providers my clients would engage either before or after they work with me and came up with this list:
- web developers
- web hosting companies
- branding and graphics designers
- content writers
- other marketing agencies
Who are some of the service providers your clients would seek out?
Once you make that list you can reach out to them with an offer and start making valuable partnerships to help your business grow.
Being found online
82% of people go straight to the internet when looking for information, so it just makes sense to be found online.
There’s a few places to go when searching online:
- Facebook looking for recommendations (posting on their timeline)
- Facebook search bar looking for pages or groups
- Google search engine for websites
- Review sites like Yelp, FourSquare, Feefo, or Google Places
Each has their pros and cons, but the methods of optimisation are similar. Ensure you’ve got a website so you can build authority back to your own domain over time. This will help to increase your chances of ranking in Google when people are searching for a solution to their problem which you can solve.
3. How to find clients if you’re…
Before you find some of your own clients, you must have 110% clarity on what value you’re bringing to the table. Is it something your prospects need right now? And how long has it been a problem for? How much damage, loss, or pain are they in? Is it something worth paying money to have solved?
Following a template can help you get the answer to these questions. We work towards making sure we’re helping our clients transform from a before state to an after state.
If you’re not sure how you can add value to your prospects yet, you can follow these steps:
- Find a how to article in your area of expertise
- Follow the steps in the article and learn how to do it yourself
- Make a list of email addresses for people who have liked, commented or shared the article
- Record a video of yourself implementing the ‘how-to’ article
- Offer to implement the same for someone on the list via email and include your video
The important takeaways from these steps are:
- You’re leading with value and not asking for anything
- You’re demonstrating you can do what was outlined in the article with video proof
- You’re taking the initiative and time to give them value
- You’re providing something they’re most likely interested in since they engaged with the how to article
Below I’ve listed some quick hacks for some service providers, so you can get started finding your own clients!
Go to Facebook and search “Recommend bookkeeper”, then use the filters to the left to find the potential clients within the area you desire. What you should get is something like this:
Now the challenge you’ll have is getting the message to the person who’s seeking help unless you already know that person. Please be aware that when you message someone who’s not a friend, your message goes to the “other” inbox and they might miss it. To increase your chances of being seen, like, comment and also add them as a friend. All of these will pop up as notifications which should help.
Hairdresser or Makeup artist
If you’re a freelance hairdresser of makeup artist then you can also follow the steps from above.
In addition you can join groups on Facebook where your skills are commonly required, such as wedding groups with brides looking for help.
Web developer or designer
People will be looking for web developers on Facebook, but there are thousands of people who need your help. In October 2017 Google announced Chrome browser would be showing warnings when websites collecting information (by way of enquiry form) wasn’t protected with an SSL certificate. As a developer, you could reach out to thousands of websites that aren’t SSL certified and offer to do it for a tiny fee.
As you’ve seen there are many ways you can find, reach and get new clients by using the different platforms we’re familiar with. If there’s another way you’ve discovered to find clients online and you’re happy to share then, please do so in the comments below.
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