Finding those first few clients is often the hardest part of starting a new business.
Everything else is more or less under your control. But when it comes to getting some initial paying customers, the power lies with the buyers.
This post will help you conquer the problem of client acquisition. We're going to cover seven highly effective ways to bring in your first clients and get the revenue ball rolling.
Let's dive right in.
If you offer a digital service, advertising on an online job board or freelance site can bring in those first crucial clients.
Here are a few of the most common professions that can easily land gigs on job boards or freelance sites:
And here are the best websites to find clients on:
These sites don't usually offer the highest rates. If you're new to your link of work, I recommend using them to cut your teeth and land a few testimonials before moving on to better client acquisition methods.
Your website is the hub of your business.
Whether you find potential clients online or offline, you're going to send them to your website for additional information on your services.
As such, it's vitally important that your website meets several essential criteria:
The easiest way to make a modern website is to purchase a website theme created by a professional developer.
You'll get the quality of a custom-made website at a fraction of the cost (most website themes are $60 or less).
If you want to use a theme, you need to be using a relatively popular website framework as the foundation for your site.
I recommend using WordPress, as it's the most popular website framework in existence.
Not only is it fast and free, but it also gives you access to thousands of themes and plugins that let you customize your site.
Anyway, if you're already using WordPress, that's awesome.
If you're not, I recommend you read this guide from WPBeginner and get started today: How to Make a WordPress Website.
Many people looking for the service you offer will turn to a search engine to find it.
By optimizing your website to rank higher in the search results ‒ a process called SEO ‒ you can direct these eager searchers to your website and convert them into paying customers.
SEO is a very complex topic, and I can't hope to cover it in full here. I will provide the essential tips, though.
If you want a more thorough overview of SEO strategy, I recommend Backlinko's Complete SEO Checklist.
Both Google and Bing place a great deal of emphasis on the speed of your site.
If they recommend a site that loads slowly, their users won't be happy, and they might lose those users to other search engines.
So, to keep the search engines happy with your site, you need to make sure your pages load quickly.
The easiest way to do this is to use the free Google PageSpeed Insights tool. It will give your website a speed score between 0 and 100 and will also give you specific tips to decrease your page load times.
Search engine users looking for your business or service are going to search for a few main keyword types. If you want these searchers to find your website, you need to place those keywords in your headlines and title tags.
Here are the three keyword categories you need to include in your page titles:
The easiest way to obtain quality backlinks is by making amazing content that other sites want to link to.
Making content takes a ton of time and effort, though. If you want to get some backlinks without the work that comes with content creation, use the following tips:
SEO and modern design are essential for getting people to your site and keeping them there.
ver, your efforts won't matter if your website visitors don't convert into paying customers.
Your website exists to get new clients.
Everything on your website should be designed with that goal in mind.
Make sure your ad copy and message placement reflect this goal. As soon as people enter your site, they should instantly see a concise message explaining what you can do for them.
That message should be accompanied by a call-to-action (CTA) that asks users to take a concrete step toward hiring you.
This action can be a consultation, the downloading of a lead magnet (more on that in a bit), or making a call to book an appointment.
Most visitors to your site aren't going to be ready to hire you at first.
That's okay ‒ it takes time to make a hiring decision, and your potential clients must weigh all the options before choosing someone.
However, that means you need to be proactive in convincing potential clients that you're the best choice.
To give cold traffic some more time to warm up to the prospect of hiring you, make a lead magnet that they can claim in exchange for their email address.
A lead magnet is something of value your potential clients can claim by giving you their contact information.
The exact nature of your lead magnet will depend on your industry. Here are a few examples:
The lead magnet you choose will also depend on the time and resources that are available to you.
You might decide that a video webinar is the best lead magnet to offer. But if you don't have the equipment or knowledge to make a webinar at the moment, a discount might be the more expedient option.
Once you create a lead magnet, you need to leverage it to build an email list. And once you have an email list built up, you need to start marketing to that email list.
Email marketing is another complex topic beyond the scope of this article. If you want to learn about email marketing in-depth, read this guide from Hubspot: The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing
Starting a blog can help you get clients in several ways.
First of all, a well-written blog will increase the number of visitors to your website.
As long as you write high-quality content that ranks on Google and Bing, you should see a massive bump in traffic compared to when you didn't have any content.
Blog posts will also give you a substantial SEO boost. Not only will the numerous articles on your industry make Google see your website as authoritative, but the backlinks that content obtains will improve your SEO massively.
The success of your blog post from a traffic perspective depends on the search keywords you target.
As your business and your website are brand new, you won't have any domain authority to work with.
If you try to rank for keywords where more authoritative websites already take the top slots, your article won't rank, and the time you spent writing it will have been wasted.
To find valuable keywords you can rank for, head over to Google and type in a keyword you'd like to rank for.
If the results are filled with high-quality articles from well-known sites, you should probably choose a different keyword. But if the articles are from new sites or forums, or if the content is thin and unhelpful, you've got a winner.
It's hard to get people to read your content if you don't write an intriguing headline.
Here are a few tips that will help you write blog headlines that get higher clickthrough rates.
Nobody wants to read an essay, nor will they be impressed by all of the big words you know.
When you write, pretend you're talking to a friend. Don't add unnecessarily complex words or use obscure references. Keep it simple and stick to the facts.
While setting up some online marketing infrastructure is certainly important, there's no replacement for the human-to-human connection of offline networking.
A single in-person relationship can bring you more revenue than 1,000 cold website visitors who find you through Google. As such, you must learn how to network and make an effort to go to networking events near you.
Here are a few tips that will help you network more effectively:
If there's a particular person you want to build a relationship with, there are probably a hundred other people who also want to form a relationship with them.
You can't merely walk up to this person, hand them a business card, and expect them to want to follow up with you further. If you truly want to connect with somebody, you need to find a concrete way in which you can help them.
By giving someone something of value before you ask them to do something for you, you'll have a much better chance of getting them to do what you want.
Nobody enjoys talking to a boring conversationalist.
If you consider yourself a rather uninteresting person, don't worry ‒ there is absolutely something about you that others will find intriguing and exciting.
The best way to build interest is to be emotionally engaging. If someone tells you a sad story, try to feel their sadness and empathize with their situation. Likewise, if you hear a funny and lighthearted story, don't be afraid to laugh your heart out.
In every social circle, there will be some relationships you value over others. Identify those relationships and prioritize maintaining them over all others.
It's always hard to find new clients when you don't have a track record with previous clients to back up your claims.
To overcome this initial hurdle, you can tap your network of friends and family to see if any would be willing to hire you. To entice people to take a chance on you, offer a discounted "friends and family" rate.
If nobody in your network is willing to hire you, no worries. Just ask if they can recommend you to anyone in their network.
With a bit of persistence and a decent-sized network, you're almost guaranteed to land at least one client using this method.
If you have a bit of money to spend on marketing, creating a landing page and running some ads are an excellent way to jumpstart the client acquisition process.
The ad platform you choose will depend on your budget, your industry, and your familiarity with the platform.
To keep things simple, I'm going to list the most popular ad platforms and provide links to excellent guides on how to use them. I'll also link to a few landing page creation guides to get you started on that, too.
Joining a coworking space can give you access to a bunch of excellent fellow professionals ‒ some of whom might be interested in your services.
This tip only applies to remote workers who don't need a physical office, but it's an excellent way to both network and get new clients if you can take advantage of it.
For a complete list of websites that offer coworking spaces, read this article from Coworking Resources.