Beginners Guide on How to Find Your First Clients
You have your business up and running and you feel confident you’re ready to manage your finances.
Now, how do you find your first clients?
We’re about to take a look at some common and effective ways to find your first few customers. This beginners guide is all about helping you get your business off the ground.
If you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend you read all the entrepreneurship guides previous to this one, starting with How to Start a Business.
Build your marketing strategy
Relying on one method to market your business is risky.
A sound marketing strategy will use several different channels for finding and enticing people interested in your products or services.
We call these potential clients leads.
Here are some common and effective ways to acquire your first leads.
Build a basic website
When you start getting enquiries from potential clients, they’ll probably want to discover more about you and your portfolio of work.
That’s why it’s important to refer these people to a web page where they can see you’re trustworthy and know your stuff.
Building a website is the most professional approach. However, it is a lot of work.
I would not recommend you to do this if you have no experience with web development.
However, if you really need a website, you might want to use a plug-and-play website builder such as Wix or Squarespace.
Create a quick digital portfolio
If building a website is not the thing you want to do, you can still make an impact on potential leads by creating a digital portfolio showcasing your work.
You can create a simple one-page portfolio with Adobe Portfolio, Krop, Fabrik and more.
These platforms make it easy for you to display your contact details and for people to click through your work.
Use social media to keep it super simple
I’d highly recommend you start from here.
If social media is going to be part of your marketing strategy, then you should set up a home base on one or two platforms.
For example, if you are a digital photographer you might be hosting your portfolio on Instagram. If you are a copywriter you might want to start using Twitter or LinkedIn.
Make sure you optimise your profile to clearly describe what you do, your past work and how people can contact you.
Here are some broad recommendations for different professions:
- Twitter and LinkedIn: Writers, marketing specialists, coaches and consultants, web developers.
- TikTok: Videographers and filmmakers, musicians, sound engineers and DJs, actors and performers, coaches and consultants.
- Instagram: Photographers, visual artists, videographers, graphic designers, web developers.
For now, the most important thing to do is to keep it simple and get something up and running quickly.
You will continue to improve and expand your online presence over time.
Build your profile on freelance platforms
Freelance platforms are used by companies to find and hire independent professionals for temporary job roles or special projects.
This is a great way for you to get your face out there and find good leads. These platforms are full of companies that are ready to purchase.
The biggest freelance platforms are:
Start doing content marketing
Content marketing involves writing. You can write blog posts, guides, articles, case studies etc.
The content you create can be posted on your personal blog, social media or though a newsletter.
It’s crucial that you post your content on the platform most popular among your audience.
Think about what kind of content your target audience might find most useful and create that resource.
Start creating content right now, adjusting the topics and style as you go along and get feedback from your audience.
Word-of-mouth marketing is also known as referral marketing.
Although the best referral leads will come to you after you have a portfolio, you still can use word-of-mouth marketing at the start of your journey.
How? Simply telling lots of people about your business. You can email, call, chat or text.
Start with friends and family, old colleagues and anyone else you can think might be interested in what you’re about to start.
The majority of these people will not become clients, but it’s a good idea to introduce your business to as many people as possible. Some of those people might be connected to your target customers.
5 extra tips for building a solid marketing strategy
Here are some extra tips to keep in mind:
Pick 1-3 marketing channels only
It’s imperative that you focus your efforts on one to three marketing channels at most, rather than spread yourself too thin across too many channels.
Focus on the channels you enjoy
When you do marketing for yourself, it’s better to stick with the things you enjoy the most. It’ll be easier for you to keep your pipeline full.
Go where your customers are
Your marketing efforts will be more successful if you use the same channels that your customers use as well.
Do some research to find out where your potential customers are.
Learn how to qualify leads
Not all leads are created equal.
When you talk to a potential client, try to understand if they have the budget, if they’re serious about working with you or just shopping around, and even if they'd be pleasant to work with.
Keep experimenting with new tactics
Marketing is also experimenting. Don’t feel obligated to stick to one channel if that doesn’t work after a few months. Stir things up a little and try something new.
Make time to do marketing and sales
Marketing and sales are not gonna do themselves. It’s wise to schedule your day / week around this task, which is extremely important.
Standardise your documents
Find some time to prepare some standardised documents, such as a quote template and a contract template. This will make your life much easier.
Of course, you’ll need to do a little research for each client, but having a template ready to be filled out will surely save you time.
Follow up, follow up, follow up
In some cases, people will like your proposal, but they’re just not ready. If your client doesn’t get back to you in 2-3 days, send them a polite reminder and see what happens.
Some will want to negotiate or have questions, some will hire you in a few months, and some will decline your offer.
In either case, always follow up with the lead to get an answer.
And that’s it. Congrats!
All the work you’ve done so far will be paying off for years to come.
NEXT GUIDE: Getting Ready for Tax Season: 2023 Guide for Entrepreneurs
PREVIOUS GUIDE: Register for GST, Make PAYG Payments and BAS Filing