One of the big questions I get from new freelancers, solopreneurs and consultants is, “How do you find new clients?”
The truth is, I almost never find new clients. But I do sign new clients regularly. So how does that happen?
It happens because new clients find me.
I approached my very first client, yes. (That client is still with me after two years!) And since then, I have tried to bring in new clients with direct pitches.
But that approach rarely worked for me. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t good at it, or because I wasn’t doing it right. For whatever reason, it didn’t work, so I stopped doing it. (That’s the beauty of running your own business — If something doesn’t work, you don’t have to keep doing it just because someone told you to.)
Know what I focus on instead? Helping people find me.
This works magically — at least it feels that way. Every time I need a new client, every time I start stressing about how much revenue I’m bringing in or realize I’m at the point where I’m ready to increasingly leverage my fabulous team, a new client request lands in my inbox.
But the truth is, it isn’t really magic.
It’s a lot of legwork, most of which happens online. Clients find me because I offer helpful and thoughtful content through my blog and Twitter and LinkedIn, building my SEO (that’s search-engine optimization) and increasing my reach. And, of course, the more clients you work with, the more referrals you’ll get, which helps your network grow over time.
If you’re just starting out with a side hustle or freelance biz, don’t let this over-time advantage get you down. I’ve only been building my business since mid-2009, and only working on it full time for the last year. So making yourself findable — and hireable! — is something you can do relatively quickly (so long as you’re dedicated).
What’s the absolute fastest way to help people find you? Wait for it… wait for it… Through your blog.
A blog helps people find you in several ways:
- If you create awesome content, people will share it with their friends, and it will spread. That means YOU will spread, too. More people will hear about you, more people will like you, more people will recommend you, more people will HIRE you.
- Search-Engine Optimization is a God-send. If you follow even just a few basics, people who are looking for someone with your skills are likely to come across you through Google.
But having a blog does more than help people discover you. Through your blog, you can also show that you know what the heck you’re doing, and that you’re GOOD AT IT. This takes helping people find you to another level. Because once they find you, they’ll also find all sorts of proof of how fabulous you are.
And guess what that means? New clients! And connections. And opportunities. And lots of luck.
Here’s a real-life example: whenever I look to hire new go-getters for my Socialexis team (which helps me with this blog, my guides and courses, and client work), I check out applicants’ blogs (as well as Twitter feeds, LinkedIn profiles and more). By looking at each person’s blog, I can easily evaluate their writing skills, social media abilities, even their network. And on top of that, I can judge whether I’d actually like them as a person. We all want to work with (and hire!) people we get along with.
So say you already have a blog where you’re sharing smart ideas. What’s the next step? How can you actively make it even easier for potential clients to find you?
A few ideas:
- Work on your SEO. Add an SEO plug-in if you don’t have one, and focus on SEO in your headlines. Search is your best friend. Seriously. I get about half my traffic from search.
- Write posts that target the people you want to hire you. If you want to get hired for social media, write about how to draft an effective social media strategy. If you want to get hired to write website content, post about how to kick butt at just that. Writing about what you want to get hired for will both pull the right people to your page (through SEO and social media) and prove to those potential clients that they should want your brains on their team.
- Grow quality followings on your choice of social networks. Don’t try to be everywhere, but pick a network or two — I focus on Twitter — and cultivate a community there. That will help you extend the reach of every blog post, because your community will help you get it in front of new eyes.
- Guest post for other popular blogs. As I wrote about in a recent newsletter, this is the ONE thing I wish I’d done for myself and my blog from the get-go. It’s THAT effective for reaching new readers — readers who could lead you to new clients. (Not on my newsletter list? Get on it! Lots of content there you won’t find on the blog.)
This list could go on and on. But those are just a few of the things I do when I need a new client. I no longer cold-pitch companies; instead, I help them find me. I focus on extending my reach, my network, my value. And just when I need a bit of that client magic, it comes my way.
Are you using any of these strategies? How could you incorporate them into your business plan?