It’s a question all service-based business owners and freelancers have, “How do I get clients?” I’ve created a list of 101 ideas to get more of the right people lining up to work with you!
I’ve broken it down into 10 areas of focus. You certainly don’t need to do them all, but my goal is for you to find something you can take action on. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!
Get Clients Strategy #1:
Get Inside Your Dream Client’s Head
To get noticed by the right people and create services they can’t resist, you must be able to crawl inside their minds and join in on the conversation that’s already going on in there.
What are they struggling with? What’s the result, outcome, or transformation they desire?
1. Pay attention to how your clients describe their problems. Keep track of their words and turns of phrase in a document so you can use them in your ads, sales pages, and promotional emails.
We have a tendency to describe things the way we’re thinking about them or how our industry peers are saying them. But when you use the exact same words they use, it’ll grab their attention — it’s like you’ve been reading their minds!
2. Send out a survey to your audience and ask them what they’re struggling with. Include a multiple-choice list of solutions you can help them with to see what’s most popular. (It also makes it easier to respond — they don’t need to think or share things they may feel embarrassed about!)
3. Ask for volunteers from people in your target market to have a free coffee chat with you via Zoom. Ask them what they’re struggling with by asking open-ended questions. Record the call and replay it later (this allows you to really listen).
4. Imagine a specific person in your target audience and write a journal entry as them. How does it feel to be where they are? What does their promise land look like?
5. Check SEMScoop to get suggestions for the words and phrases people are using to ask questions as they relate to your services. Create content that answers those questions.
6. Check buzzsumo.com to discover what content related to your niche is most popular on social media. This will give you an idea of what people are most interested in. You can also search Pinterest to see top-ranking content for your keywords.
7. Create a feedback survey and send it to your clients just as their work with you is wrapping up. What surprised them about the experience? What did they learn or find most valuable? Google Forms and Typeform are two easy tools for this.
8. Create a customer avatar. This is a representational person from your target market. When you write your brand and promotional copy, write to this one person. Grab my Client Clarity exercise that includes a demographic psychographic profile, a client avatar exercise and an empathy exercise.
9. When you’re on a sales call with a prospective client, ask open-ended questions and listen more than you talk. Mirror their words back to them and show you empathize and understand, then describe how you’re going to help them solve that problem.
10. Use Quora to understand the types of questions your customers ask and how your competition is answering those queries. How can you answer them better?
Get Clients Strategy #2:
Describe your work in clear, memorable language
If you want to become a go-to expert, you have to make ‘what you do’ clear, easy to understand, and memorable.
11. Make sure what you do and who you serve is clear within 5 seconds of landing on your website or your social media profiles.
12. If you’re not sure, ask people outside of your industry (ideally in your target audience) whether or not the way you’re describing your work is clear to them.
13. If ‘what you do’ isn’t obvious based on your business or domain name, create a tagline or slogan.
14. Create an elevator pitch–a description of what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it that can be described in the time it takes to go between floors on an elevator. Be concise and consistent in the way you describe your work and say it with confidence.
15. Create an “I’m the one that” statement. How are you different from your competition? Answer it with, “I’m the one that ________.”
16. Instead of describing your words in functional terms (I design, I write, I coach, I consult), describe the outcome you help people achieve. “I help my clients ______.”
17. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use proven copywriting formulas to describe your work. You can find some here.
18. Create a purpose statement.
19. Create an FAQ page or include FAQs on your services or sales page.
20. When you’re writing copy, be conversational and speak directly to your dream client. Don’t write in third person.
Bonus: Check out The Brand Story Blueprint if you need help clarifying your brand messaging.
Get Clients Strategy #3:
Share your expertise
In order for people to become aware of your expertise, you need to be sharing a certain amount of it for free. Create and share content that helps your audience solve problems that relate to your service offerings.
21. Add a blog to your website and answer your clients’ questions with your content. Not only will it drive traffic back to your website when you share your articles on social, it helps you get discovered in search.
22. Create a webinar that solves a painful problem your client is struggling with. It should provide standalone value, but you can “upsell” them to your larger service offering at the end.
23. Join Facebook groups where your dream customers are likely to be and be helpful by answering questions that allow you to demonstrate your expertise.
24. Create your own Facebook group to build a community of people in your target audience and be helpful.
25. Engage your Instagram followers with more than images. Share stories, tips, lessons learned, success stories, and strategies. Ask open-ended questions and respond to comments.
26. Use Twitter as more than a broadcast channel. Use it to demonstrate your expertise and help your audience solve problems. Here’s a great example.
27. Create an email list opt-in freebie that shows off your expertise and gives your audience a quick win. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to be relevant and valuable to your audience. Check out Biz-in-a-box design templates and training for Canva if design isn’t your cup o’ tea.
28. Answer questions on Quora relating to your service offerings
29. Create a YouTube channel and share tips and tutorials.
30. Host a podcast and discuss topics that will help your audience solve problems that relate to your niche and offerings.
Get Clients Strategy #4:
Elevate Your Brand
Your brand is what pre-sells your dream clients on your services. Do they know who you are? Can they trust you? Do they like you?
31. Include a friendly, professional photo of you on your website and use the same photo as your avatar on all your social media channels.
32. Use an email with your domain name, not gmail, yahoo or hotmail. If you use gmail, you can set up your firstname.lastname@example.org in the settings.
33. Be consistent in the colors, fonts, and style of images you use in your marketing materials (website, social media graphics, documents you share with clients, etc.) Clean and simple is better than snazzy and cluttered. Create master templates if you’re using MS Word.
34. Get your logo professionally designed. Try crowdsourcing or work directly with a designer who has an aesthetic you love. You can find amazing talent on Instagram–just search #logo #logodesigner or #logoinspiration. (You can check out my portfolio too!) Avoid using generic concepts.
35. Use a branding style guide to help you maintain consistency. It should include how to use your logo, typography, color palette, image and pattern styles, and guidelines for your brand voice, personality and tone. Grab my template. 👇
36. Work with a professional copywriter to help you write your brand copy essentials: your value proposition, your social media intros, and your tagline. (Anywhere you’re introducing yourself to internet strangers for the first time.)
37. Use templates for your blog and social media graphics so when people see them, they know within milliseconds it’s from you. You can work with a graphic designer to create a look and feel for your templates, or use Canva and a professional template pack like Canva Social Media Templates.
38. Get a professional, high-quality business card. Moo.com is fabulous and there are loads of pro-quality designs you can choose from.
39. Create an email signature that includes your logo, your business name and tagline, a description of what you do, and links to all the places where people can find you online. If you have a freebie opt-in offer, share that in your signature too.
40. If you’re bootstrapping your brand, here are some ways to up-level your brand without hiring professionals.
Get Clients Strategy #5:
Create Irresistible Offers
Your bulleted list of services describe what you do, but your competitors are selling those things too, and if your customer can’t tell the difference between them, they’ll base their decision on price. If you want to be a go-to expert and attract high-quality clients, you must explain the value of your offerings.
41. Get rid of your bulleted lists of services that describe what you do and go into more detail to describe the benefits and tangible results. Watch this free training to see whether your services page is leaking leads and clients.
42. What do your clients really need? Create packages that allow you to provide the outcome they desire and give your services a title and a fixed price.
43. If you’re selling high-priced services, create a more affordable “lead service” as a first step. It should solve a problem rather than create one— for example, an audit identifies problems, but a road map provides value that stands on its own whether they continue working with you or not.
A lead service is often the first steps people go through when they work with you. Watch this free masterclass that goes deeper into creating a lead service and a logical lineup of irresistible offers that lead people toward your premium services.
44. Create packages at 3 different price points that help your customer achieve the same basic outcome. At each level, add more value and increase the price. Design the middle option to be the one most people need. The lower and higher price offers will give them something to compare (called “price anchoring”) so they make their decision based on value.
45. Create separate sales pages for each of your offerings so you can go into more detail, provide FAQ information to help overcome objections, and prove to them you’re going to do a great job. Proof includes things like past results you’ve had expressed as data, logos of high-profile clients you’ve worked with, credible testimonials (including full name and photo), ratings/reviews, and your money-back guarantee if you have one.
46. Try this exercise. Instead of creating your service offering and then writing a sales page, start by writing the sales page and then create your offer. What do your clients need? What obstacles are they facing? What can you do to give them the transformation they desire?
47. If you have different audiences for your offers, create separate sales pages for each so you can tailor your message specifically to them. The more it feels like you’re talking directly to your target customer, the more you’ll be perceived as the best one to help them.
48. If you have a niche audience and offering that is not in alignment with the rest of your offerings, create a separate, branded website to promote that to your niche audience.
49. Test new offerings by creating a limited time promotional offer before you add it to your services page lineup.
50. When you’re considering adding a new service package to your roster, create a standalone sales page and include a freebie opt-in in exchange for people to “join the waitlist.” Then, when you’re ready to roll it out, send a message to this segment of your email list to announce you’re accepting clients.
Get Clients Strategy #6:
Earn Their Trust
People only work with people they trust, and when you’re trying to attract clients online, it’s more challenging than face-to-face. Here are some ways to earn trust with internet strangers.
51. Write articles for high-profile publications and display “as featured in” logos on your home page
52. Create case studies that show the successful results of your work on your website
53. Share the successful results of your work on social media
54. Submit your work for award consideration and share the results if you win
55. Share client testimonials when promoting your services on social media
56. Share client testimonials anywhere on your website where you want to back up marketing claims with proof
57. Go to conferences and events where your clients are likely to be and give a presentation.
58. Have someone record your thought leadership presentations and share them on social media
59. If you’ve worked with high-profile clients, display their logos on your website
60. Create a media kit and get press coverage
Get Clients Strategy #7:
Create Client-Attraction Allies
One of the fastest ways to get clients is to get other people referring them to you!
61. Research complementary service providers to find out who is serving your target audience. Then, reach out to them and invite them for a video coffee chat to discuss referring work to one another.
62. If you don’t have clients yet or you’re launching a new service, find “beta clients” you can offer a free service to in exchange for testimonials and referrals.
63. Identify people who are also creating content for your audience and offer to be helpful: guest post on their blog, pitch them to join forces on a webinar, be a guest on their podcast.
64. Create a landing page that describes your offerings and send it to your well-connected friends. Ask them if they know anybody who needs your offerings and ask them to recommend and introduce you.
65. Become friends with your competitors. They may have too much work than they can handle, or they may get a referral that isn’t a good fit. You want to be the one they think of and trust when they refer people on! Invite them for a coffee chat via Skype or Zoom, or if they’re local, take them to lunch and buy them a sandwich. People love sandwiches.
66. Ask your clients for referrals! You may be expecting them to automatically do this, but it’s better to ask. Tell them how much it would mean to you if they would keep you in mind to refer to their friends. Do this face-to-face is possible.
67. In your exit survey, include the question: “Is there someone you know who could benefit from my services that you would be willing to introduce me to?”
68. Create a referral program and offer an incentive for people to refer others to you. (A flat fee, a % of the project total, or a gift card.)
69. Meet new people and make new friends! Get outside of your current personal network and introduce yourself to new people. Join a Meetup.com group, take a class or workshop, join a Facebook group, volunteer, join a professional association, attend networking events.
70. Whenever you have the opportunity, be generous and helpful to others.
Get Clients Strategy #8:
Level-Up Your Website
71. Make sure your website loads fast. Test it on GTMetrix.com
72. Make sure every web page has an unmissable call to action that tells your users exactly what their next step is.
73. Hire an expert to review your website or conduct a usability test using a site like UsabilityHub.com
74. Make sure it’s easy to read (16pt type or more), and there’s plenty of contrast between your text and link styles. Be aware that some of your site visitors have disabilities and learn about website accessibility best practices.
75. Make sure the design is clean, easy to navigate, and not cluttered with things that are not relevant to your goals or your site visitors’ goals
76. If web design is not your thing, hire a designer. If you can’t afford that, use a website builder that comes with well-designed templates and lots of resources and tutorials online that’ll walk you through it. Squarespace or Divi for WordPress are both user-friendly.
77. Make sure contacting you is easy. Include a contact page in your top navigation and in your footer too. If you use a contact form, also include your email address and phone or Skype number.
78. Learn how to write effective copy, this is your persuasive argument for why people should trust and choose you and the role copy plays in your online marketing cannot be underestimated. Read The Brain Audit and check out Copyhackers.com
79. Hire a conversion copywriter to write your most important sales pages if copywriting is just not your thing.
80. Make sure your about page is not about you. It should be all about you as it relates to your clients.
Get Clients Strategy #9:
Master Social Media
“Go where your clients are” they say, and you can bet they’re on social media.
Don’t try to master every social media channel at once. Choose the one where your dream clients are most likely to be and dig in and master it before you move on to the next. Be authentic, infuse YOU into your posts as much as possible. People want to work with people they like and relate to.
81. Social media is very visual. Make sure your graphics are on-brand and eye-catching. If you’re not a designer, use Canva combined with professionally-designed templates.
82. If you’re completely new to social media, invest in a foundational course like Smart Social Media.
83. If your goal is mainly to drive traffic from social media back to your website, use Pinterest, it’s a traffic powerhouse. It’s also a bit of a beast to get the hang of it, so I recommend taking a course so you set it up properly to start. I devoured this one in about the time it takes for a long lunch break and it covers all the basics. I struggled to move the needle for a long time, but digging in is worth it.
84. Be consistent. Most people are going to miss your message most of the time, so you’ll need to reshare content and posts and do something to be visible on social media every day.
85. See above and automate, automate, automate. Here’s exactly how I do that [free video tutorial]
86. Use IFTTT (“If this then that”) to automate even further. Examples include “if I post to Instagram, then post it to Twitter too,” and “if someone follows me, then send them a direct message.” It’s free!
87. How does your philosophy or approach differ from your competition? Don’t be afraid to take a stand, this is how you’ll set yourself apart.
88. Be vulnerable. Share stories about obstacles you’ve had to overcome to move forward in your own business.
89. Engage. Don’t just broadcast your message, have conversations with your friends and followers.
90. Pin your freebie opt-in offer to the top of your Twitter & Facebook profiles. See example.
Get Clients Strategy #10:
Create A Rave-Worthy Client Experience
The best way to attract clients you love is to work with clients you love and create a rave-worthy experience. Your goal is to create a VIP experience so they refer you to everyone they know and share their experience with others.
91. Make “how it works to work with you” clear by creating a welcome document for your clients. This is where you’ll establish boundaries and policies so everyone knows what to expect.
92. Follow that up with a contract. Contracts help you avoid misunderstandings so everyone can feel comfortable.
93. If your service takes time, make sure you’re staying in close contact, especially if it’s a new client. “Just checking in to let you know I’m hard at work, expect a status report on [date]” emails only take a minute to write, but make all the difference for your client.
94. Create a process you can guide your clients through. Clients want you to lead them because you’re the expert.
95. Go above and beyond. This does not mean throwing in a bunch of free, unbilled time–they won’t value it or even know you’re doing it (they don’t know how long things take). You might send a gift at the end of your work together, or provide them with a package of resources, checklists, or training materials they didn’t expect.
96. Follow up with your clients after 3, 6 and 12 months to see how things are going.
97. Send a clients-only VIP monthly or quarterly newsletter via email packed with helpful information.
98. Use a project management tool like Asana, Basecamp or Dubsado so nothing slips through the cracks.
99. When your client pays their bill, thank them for being a rockstar and paying in a timely manner.
100. Don’t nickel-and-dime your clients with unexpected charges like payment processing fees.
Build all of your costs into your fees and make it transparent to them as much as possible. If there are additional or variable charges you can’t build into your packages or estimates, make sure they know what they are from jump street.
#101 Work with me! 😎I help consultants and creatives niche down, level up, and gain the confidence to put themselves out there in a much bigger way. I’d love to help if that sounds like something you need in your life.
I hope you found something you can take action on starting today! I wish you the best of luck in your client attraction efforts. If you have questions or if there’s something I missed, hit me up in comments below!
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.