Clients are definitely one of the most important factors of running and sustaining a successful business. Without clients—especially those who pay you regularly—your business would be non-existent. Without clients in most cases, a business could not be considered a business but a project or even a plan.
1. Ask for referrals
You are going to email them right now asking for a referral. Seriously…do this.
Below is the email copy I used which worked really well. I opened by checking up on the client and then asking for a direct referral. Don’t beat around the bush or leave it open ended, and always keep it short:
How is [Company] doing? I enjoyed working with you on that project and would love to hear how it’s going.
On a side note, I’m looking for new clients to work with. Can you connect me to any people or companies in your network that could use my services right now?
2. Partner with agencies
Partnering with an agency is a great way to bring in new clients. I’ve used this exact strategy and built a partnership with an agency that sends me at least 1 new client per month. I also make sure the agency is larger than my consultancy, so I’m not competing.
I found agencies usually pass on work because:
- The budget is too low
- They have no interest in the project
- They don’t have availability
- They don’t have the required skills or expertise
Normally when an agency turns down a prospective client, they’ll refer the client to a new company in their network. That’s where you come in. I reached out to a dozen or so web agencies with a personalized email offering to partner or take on any work they pass up. I received responses from about half, and set up phone calls with each to discuss further. I would usually email the person in charge of business development since they were focused on building relationships with outside vendors.
3. Browse job boards
This is really another no-brainer, and chances are you already use job boards. If you don’t, bookmark all of these below and check them daily for new projects. This is probably one of the easiest ways to get new clients. These boards include logo design, web design, development, marketing, copywriting and miscellaneous jobs. Positions cover remote, full-time, part-time, contract and more, so there’s plenty of options.
Did I miss one? Post in the comments and let me know.
- Authentic Jobs
- Reddit For Hire
- Smashing Jobs
- We Work Remotely
- Stack Overflow
- YC Jobs
- Product Hunt
- Indeed (try keyword + your location (or) remote (or) contract (or) freelance, etc.
4. Follow up with lost clients
When I say “lost clients”, I’m referring to clients you may have spoke with or sent a proposal to in the past, but didn’t win the business. Go through your email and find clients you lost 2+ months ago. Send them a follow up email asking how their project is coming along, and if there is anything you can do for them. This tactic is about being helpful and showing you care about the client. This can lead to a small project or even spark a new conversation about hiring you, if they are unhappy with their previous selection. If not, you’re still putting yourself on their radar and might see some referrals coming your way.
5. Follow up with your network
Browse through old email conversations with colleagues, connections and people you’ve spoke with in the past, who could be a fit for your consultancy. Follow up with each, asking what they’ve been up to and how you can help.
Asking how you can help the person, whether its giving feedback, advice, tips or doing a small task, can be rewarding, and it helps you build up relationships with the right people. Remember, if you go out of your way to help someone for free, they’ll likely return the favor and help you.
I followed up with an entrepreneur I met a few years back, who had recently founded a company. He asked for my feedback on his product and any advice I had. I hopped on a call with him to discuss, and he later hired my consultancy for some internal design and UX work.
6. Run an ad campaign
Facebook ads and Google Adwords are great ways to advertise your consultancy to prospective clients. Both platforms let you set a small daily budget for those that are cash-strapped, or want to test the waters. I found Facebook ads easier to use than Google Adwords, which definitely has a steep learning curve if you’re new. PPC University is an amazing resource to learn about running effective campaigns, or check out Kudu, a service that will manage and run campaigns for you. For visitors who come to your website and leave, you can use retargeting services like Adroll or Perfect Audience. These platforms allow you to track who visits your site, and lets you later serve ads to them via Facebook, Twitter, and other online marketing channels. You can also try buying display ads from BuySellAds. However, there may be a higher minimum budget, depending on the sites and creatives you select.
7. Generate leads
Generating leads consists of finding prospective clients that could benefit from your services, and coming up with a plan to reach them. In my previous post, I detailed the process I used to generate leads for a cold email campaign, which is something you can replicate right now. There are also services that can do the lead generation and sales process for you, like Leadgenius, Hiplead, and GetProspects (shout-out to Scott, who happens to be a reader of the blog!)
8. Use Twitter search
Twitter search is a powerful way to find real-time tweets from people and companies looking to hire or that need help. You can find these tweets by using certain keywords and phrases like below:
- Hiring a [your keyword here]
- Looking to hire a [your keyword here]
- Looking for a [your keyword here]
- #hiring #yourkeywordhere
Be creative. Try different search phrases and you’ll discover some great potential clients and projects. You can use Warble to automate your searches and have them delivered to your inbox each day.
9. Be on demand
Share your expertise and skills on marketplaces like Clarity, Liveninja or Google Helpouts. These sites have a lot of people to choose from, so consider giving away a few free sessions, to build up your profile. My colleague, Khuram Malik, built up his profile by giving away free calls to people in his network, which resulted in great reviews and referral business. P.S. He’s offering a free call to the first 5 people that book with his VIP link
10. Create a course
Create a course on Udemy to tap into a large audience of students and prospective clients. Tapha Ngum wrote a course on Building and Selling a Niche Website From Scratch, which has thousands of students. Tapha made money from selling his course, and from people who reached out to hire him directly.
11. Utilize industry networking sites
Almost every industry has networking sites that bring the community together. These sites are an amazing way to grow your brand and land new clients.
If you design, make sure you have a profile on Dribbble, Behance, Coroflot and/or Krop. Also join the discussion on Designer News.
If you’re a developer, be active on GitHub, Stack Overflow and Hacker News.
If you focus on marketing and writing, dive into the conversations on Growth Hackers, Inbound and Reddit marketing.
I personally know several people who receive client inquiries from Dribbble and GrowthHackers, just for uploading work or engaging in the discussions.
12. Write a guide
Similar to the SlideShare tactic above, write a guide on a specific topic that you have expertise in. Guides is a great place to distribute your guides, along with your personal network and on social channels. Creating a guide is proven way to drive traffic, capture leads and become an authority on a topic.
For a bigger list please check this post