Updated: May 23, 2020
While it’s a necessary part of running any kind of business, prospecting clients can take you away from the things that you got into business to do.
Whether that’s creating logos for clients, writing articles to be published in major publications or simply helping people who walk into your store, those moments in time are valuable and build your brand, but what can you do to get clients without losing the time that is already so important.
Here are our tips to ensure you have a steady stream of clients:
Tip #1 – Keep your portfolio up-to-date
An out of date portfolio can severely hold you back from any new clients that may want to work with you. They don’t want to see stuff from three years ago, they want to know what you’re doing now. What you have in your portfolio is what you will be hired for – remember that!
But just having a website though doesn’t guarantee that people will come to you. If you’re looking to attract potential clients, you need to market your work and some ways to do that are by using searchable portfolio sites such as:
If you have a website, make sure it’s updated and has relevant information such as work samples, testimonials from previous clients and make sure your contact information is easy to locate.
Tip #2 – Start a Blog (make sure you update it)
If you’re a designer with a website, you owe it to yourself and your current and future clients to have a blog on your website. This is to show off our expertise & position yourself as an expert. But when you start blogging, you need to know who your market is.
You may think people want to read about articles on design, but the trick is to write blog posts that will appeal to those who you are trying to attract. Eg. Case Studies, tips for clients (not designers). By doing that, you’ll catch the attention of the right people and with enough time, it is very likely that it will lead to a new gig for you.
But make sure you update it. A site with no updates is considered dead and not worth a client’s time.
Further reading: how to start a blog
Tip #3 – Create valuable content for others (increase your credibility)
Creating content for others (content marketing) provides you with exposure to anybody who would see it as well as provides value for others. For designers and creatives, this could be the creations of an infographic, an Instagram series of micro-content or a video on any given topic that would help your clients.
No matter the type of work, the more people you can put it in front of for them to see, the better. Best known beats best, every time! The quality of your work will come through in whatever you produce and that quality can lead to people looking to hire you for your services.
Further reading: Increase leads, sales and ROI with content marketing
Tip #4 – Increase Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is probably the easiest option on how to land new clients on our list without really having to do any extra work to bring them on as a client. If you have a current client who loves your work and recommends you to someone they know, it’s like getting the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s candy factory.
If you’re not getting any word of mouth clients yet, simply contact all your current clients and ask them if they have referrals.
If you’re doing good work, keep it up. People who own their own business likely know others that do too. Those connections likely need help in some aspect of their business and if you’re able to help them, the word of mouth cycle can continue on and on.
Further reading: 11 Essential Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners
Tip #5 – Update LinkedIn (You know you haven’t)
Many hiring managers will look to Linkedin to find an ideal candidate for their open position. Linkedin is a great way to provide a digital cover sheet prior to an interview regardless if it is for a full-time job or a single project, an up-to-date profile will stand out.
But you can’t treat your LinkedIn profile like your Facebook page. You need to have a summary on your page, your experience and skills have to be up to date. Adding relevant work samples of projects you may have worked on in the past is super important as is a professional-looking profile picture. Don’t use the one from Disney World.
Getting recommendations from former clients can let recruiters know that your work stands out among others that people look forward to getting from you.
Further reading: How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
Tip #6 – Keep industry-relevant social media updated too!
When it comes to social media, there are so many different options out there outside of Facebook and Twitter. In fact, there are many industry-specific social media platforms that you may want to look into depending on your field of work.
Just off the top of our head:
Github for developers
Dribbble and Behance for designers
Vimeo for videographers
Flickr for photographers
Much like LinkedIn, you want to make sure you keep your profile updated so if an employer sees your work, he knows how to get in touch with you.
Free Social Media Tools: Download free tools to manage your social media
Tip #7 – Network (it’s not a dirty word)
Many people hear the word networking and immediately groan. Those are the people you don’t want as clients. Networking can be a major part of finding clients. Attending conferences or local meetups for professionals at a local bar is something you should be at. Make sure to bring some business cards.
Face-to-face meetings leave a better impression on someone than talking over the phone or online. Attending events that are important to your area of focus is certainly important, but attending those where your potential client might be is even more so.
Further reading: Getting Offline – In-Person Networking Tips
Tip #8 – Capture Emails with Lead Magnets
One of the best and easiest ways to build a client base and keep clients coming back is to initially attract them to your website and your portfolio with a free giveaway or lead magnet. A free giveaway can be set up for visitors to enter in an email address prior to receiving their free gift.
Those email addresses can create new opportunities for you and possibly many new clients that can become referral machines for your long-term business. And it’s as simple as giving something away for free, even it’s just a PDF ebook. My goal in summer 2020 is to publish a new every month (May to August) sign-up here so you don't miss them!
Further reading: How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation
I personally use OptinMonster for my lead magnet integration tool!
Tip #9 – Become a referral machine
Word of mouth is a pillar of getting new clients for your business, but even if you did an amazing job and your client is signing your praises only to you, then that really doesn’t work.
Try this. When you’ve completed a project, send a thank you email, mention that you would appreciate a referral and if it leads to a new client, the next project you do for the old client is at a discount as a thank you. Obviously, you don’t want to do this for every project you do for that client or take a ridiculous percentage off, but clients can like the idea of getting a good deal for minimal effort and can come back to you time and time again. Impressions are everything.
Further reading: How to find new clients
Tip #10 – Create a contact marketing plan
This tip turns things over a bit. A contact marketing plan is when you choose a list of the ideal clients that you want to work with and then send them a personalized gift in order to get their attention and a possible meeting.
Anything from a coffee mug to even something that relates to their industry with a personalized message will definitely stand out.
Never underestimate the power that a small simple gift sent through the mail can have on a potential client.
Tip #11 – Create A Course
If you’re having trouble getting clients, you can easily do what many others have done to attract potential clients. Create a course on Udemy or one of the other teaching platforms that are available. While you can make money selling your course to interested students, potential clients can reach out to you to hire you directly. You can also earn passive income this way when you don’t have any clients.
See here for the top courses on Udemy.
Tip #12 – Run a Contest
Running a contest on Instagram can be a great way to build a potential client list. While many people can be pretty cautious about contests that may promise them something like a free tv, holding a contest where the winner receives something tangible like a free logo for their business or one-on-one consultation can be enticing and can create massive word of mouth for your business.
Further reading: 8 Winning Instagram Tips for Your Business
Tip #13 – Do interviews and podcasts
We all know we should market our business because if we don’t, no one will find you. Part of your marketing plan should include going on podcasts or doing interviews whenever possible. Maybe a friend or friend’s friend has a popular podcast or the college you attended is looking to do a “where are they now?” piece for the alumni newsletter.
Both of these put you out and in people's line of sight and hearing and can lead to many opportunities while increasing your exposure.
Tip #14 – Write Case Studies
Case studies are a great way for potential clients to see the results and success that you have had on a particular project. Case studies typically cover the client, any challenges that may have occurred, your process and the results of your work on the project. A case study can give a potential client a snapshot of how well you’ve worked with others in the past and what working with you will be like.
Tip #15 – Use the $1.80 Strategy
While this $1.80 strategy was developed by Gary Vaynerchuk, its underlying principle is very old school. On Instagram or any other social medium platform, you can build a following by offering others value in comments to their postings, otherwise known as giving your two cents.
The trick is to search for topics that relate to your area of focus. Offering tips, advice or praise over someone’ else’s work can cause others to start following you and being seen as someone knowledgeable. That perception can draw in many different clients looking for your services.
How to get clients knocking on your door/inbox
Getting new clients can be difficult, especially if you’re relatively new in your field. To help, we wanted to come up with a list of ways you could attract potential clients and keep them and their colleagues coming back time and time again.
We hope our list has given you some ideas to incorporate into your prospecting plans in the future. Do you have a great tip that isn’t on our list?
Let us know in the comments below!
I devote my professional life to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners reach their goals. So stay in touch by dropping a comment and connect on IG and Twitter!
I'm Ehren Muhammad, Founder of EMPro, Ltd
EMPro, Ltd - Branding & Digital Marketing
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