Running your own business can be stressful, but actually getting clients to keep your business afloat? That can be one of the most difficult and anxiety-inducing struggles for a business owner. In today’s post, I’m sharing 15 in-depth strategies that will — hands down — help you get more clients for your service-based business. Want to be booked months in advance? Here are my favorite ways to do it:
1. Actively participate in Facebook groups.
A lot of people have been throwing around the idea that “Facebook for business is dead.” Since Facebook pages now have a very small organic reach (like, 3% — yikes!), it’s easy to assume that the whole platform is useless. Facebook pages may be going through that angsty teenager phase, but as a whole? Facebook can be a killer way to find clients and build your business.
Here’s how: Join Facebook groups where your ideal client might be hangin’ out. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you might want to join groups geared at bloggers or small business owners, as these are people who would need your services. Then, rather than being spammy or self-promoting, be outrageously helpful when people ask questions in the group. That is literally all there is to it! The other group members will take note of your expertise and will check out your profile (which should hopefully be linked to your business’s Facebook page and website). Don’t believe me when I say this works? Check out these quotes from a couple of ladies who have benefitted from this strategy:
“I’ve booked four of my highest-paying clients from Facebook groups this year, and I’ve been consistently booked 2-3 months in advance. Facebook groups make it easy and fun to meet your target clients and genuinely connect with them. The more h
elpful you are within your groups, the more people get in touch with you or recommend you to their friends! My business would not be where it is today without Facebook.” -Nesha of Nesha Designs
“I would say that 90% of my clients come from networking in Facebook groups while the other 10% come from referrals from those clients that I first connected with in FB groups. It’s definitely been a useful tool for me, helping me to connect with my potential clients as well as other business contacts who have helped me grow my business in other ways. However, most of my clients have not come from promoting in those groups, but from being helpful and becoming known as a knowledgeable WordPress expert.” -Lily Dagdag of Save Your Time Biz Solutions
2. Create blog content that is written with your ideal client in mind.
One of the best, non-spammy ways to get clients is to write blog posts that your ideal clients would want to read. Are you a personal stylist? Share tips with the most flattering styles for each body type. Are you a copywriter? Write a post about how to create an awesome “About” page. Are you a web designer? Share advice about how to use WordPress. This will not only reel them in to your site, but will also give you a chance to show the immense knowledge you have in your field.
It’s like selling without selling! You get to show off your skills without forcing anything on your readers. Ideally, you should have a link or graphic somewhere on your blog, directing people to your services page.
3. Perfect your current client process to receive more referrals.
Take a moment and literally map out (on paper) what your client process will look like. Try to be very specific and streamline your process so that everything flows. Perfecting your process and making everything as smooth as possible for your clients will increase the chances that your clients will refer their friends or peers to you. If they loved working with you, they’ll be quick to share your expertise with everyone they know.
Here’s an example of my process:
Initial emails >> Phone consult (sometimes) >> Contract >> Deposit Invoice >> Questionnaire >> Proofs (Rounds 1, 2, 3) >> Final Invoice >> Installation >> Phone call instructions (if needed) >> Thank you email
It may also help to share this process with your clients to keep them in the loop. The less confused and frazzled your clients feel, the more likely they are to recommend you.
4. Answer questions on Twitter.
Many people take to Twitter looking for advice and recommendations from their peers. In this tip, you’ll be searching for those people and helping them out.
Try searching for things like:
- Hiring a (keyword)
- (keyword) recommendations
It’s very simple, but can be an incredibly effective way to find people who need what you’re selling right now. If they’re asking a question? Answer it! If they’re looking for someone to hire? Be sincere, let them know you can help, and give them a link to your portfolio. Easy peasy, friends!
5. Work with clients who have a large, engaged audience.
Easier said than done, but awhile back a blogger with a large, devoted audience contacted me to design her blog. I had no idea how she found me since my business was still fairly small at the time. After working together, I’ve gotten over 50 leads and probably more than 20 clients simply from having my link in the bottom of her site. It also led me to work with other big clients who found me through her site, which continued to grow my business, and was the single biggest turning point for me.
Instead of waiting for a big-name client, why not approach one yourself? To seal the deal, you could offer your services at a steep discount or even for free. Many people with large followings may be eager to receive free or discounted services in exchange for social media promotion or your link on their blog. It doesn’t hurt to try and can have a huge impact on your business if you approach the right person. Just make sure that if you take this route, you’re getting enough out of the collaboration.
6. Build an active social media presence.
Social media builds trust and expands your reach. In my experience, I’ve received many clients by sharing my design work on Pinterest and Instagram. They key here is to also be a normal human being — not a salesperson. Sprinkle your business into your usual posts, sharing behind the scenes snippets whenever you can. Your clients want to do business with real people and providing your life, coupled with your business, will grow a special kind of trust that will encourage them to work with you.
Plus, social media also builds hype and excitement, especially when you include other people. For example, if you’re sharing a photo from a recent wedding you shot, then tag the couple and talk about the experience of shooting their wedding. This primes your followers and gets them thinking, “I want her to shoot MY wedding, too!”
7. Follow up with potential clients that never purchased.
You probably have some emails from clients who initially inquired about your services and then never emailed you back. Follow up with them and shoot them an email. Try something like:
I just wanted to check in with you to see if you were able to check out my packages or had any questions. I’d be happy to help. Would you like to set up a quick phone call some time this week? Thanks so much (name)! Have a great day.
If you’re feeling bold and really want to improve your business, you may even want to email the people who never followed through and ask them why they decided not to purchase from you. This is vulnerable and revealing, but can be one of the most useful and effective things you do to improve your business. Try something like:
Thank you so much for considering my services recently. Even though we weren’t able to work together, I’m glad we were able to connect! As a new business owner, I’m eager to find ways that I can improve my business and enhance the experience for my future clients. If you’re up for it, I’d love to hear why you decided not to book my services. I know this might be an odd question, but I really do appreciate any feedback you can share. 🙂
8. Follow up with past clients to see if they need any additional help.
Do you ever follow up with your past clients to see if they need any extra assistance? Do it! Just shoot them an email to see how things are going and ask if they need any extra help. Oftentimes, they will, but will need that nudge to move you to the top of their to-do list.
Similarly, you might have recently discovered something that you think will surely help your clients. Perhaps it’s a new favorite plugin or an e-book you just wrote that you know they’d love. Send your past client an email letting them know about it. It won’t feel salesy if it’s genuine and they can tell that you’re just looking out for them.
9. Try Facebook ads.
Facebook ads can be a very effective way to reach your target audience and clients for a small amount of money compared to other forms of advertising. Facebook also allows you to create sophisticated audiences to show your ad to. This means that you get to pick everything from their location and gender to which pages they “like” on Facebook and what their interests are. With the right ad, it can be a very effective way to generate new, potential clients.
10. Build your email list and stay in touch with your subscribers.
Building an email list is one of the best things you can do for your business. I’ll save you the spiel since I wrote all about why they’re awesome right here, but if you’re a business owner, I highly recommend creating an email list. They allow you to stay in touch with your subscribers in a way that nothing else can. Not everyone will check your social media account or website everyday, but it’s very likely they will check their email, meaning you can “talk” to your potential clients and subscribers just about any time you’d like. This is great for sharing limited-time offerings and promoting your business.
Your email list and newsletter is also a great way to keep your business in the forefront of people’s minds. If you pop up in their inbox each week with helpful tips and advice, they’ll remember you the next time they need to hire someone who does what you do.
11. Guest blog on other sites.
Guest blogging allows you to share your expertise with someone else’s audience, which will hopefully bring more visitors to your site and interested in your services. Find a blogger with an audience that would be interested in your services and send them an email to see if they’d allow you to guest post.
By the way, you don’t need to treat your guest post like an ad. Just be authentic, overly helpful, and write with your ideal audience in mind. Your post should link back to your site and, ideally, will include an author bio that mentions your services. I am a believer in the idea that if someone likes what you have to say, they’ll hire you. You don’t need to overly sell yourself. A gentle nudge will do. 🙂
12. Add Etsy listings for your services.
When I first started my design business two years ago, I listed my services on Etsy, which is also what I used to invoice my clients. Now, I use and prefer invoicing software, like Freshbooks, but if you’re just getting started in a service-based business, Etsy can be a great way to attract new clients. Etsy is a huge online marketplace full of potential clients who might be searching for your services. Talk about free marketing!
In my case, I did have several clients who found and hired me through Etsy, so I know it has potential!
13. Pump up your SEO.
It surprises me to this day that many of my clients find me through Google. I mean, there are plenty of designers in the world — how did Google lead them to me?! You might think that it would be difficult to get clients from search engines for the same reason I did, but if you work hard on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then it’s definitely possible! Decide on a few keywords that describe your business (get specific), read this article, and pump up that SEO. It has incredible potential to bring you a steady stream of clients who are ready to hire you.
14. Focus your business on a specific audience.
It’s hard to grow anything when you’re marketing yourself at the entire world. You’ll grow your business faster and be able to charge more for your services if you specialize in a certain area or niche. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, perhaps you are THEE graphic designer for handmade businesses. Or if you’re an attorney, you could market yourself as THEE attorney for creative entrepreneurs.
Focusing on a specific audience builds trust. When people see that you specialize in THEM, then they’re more likely to trust that you know what you’re doing and will understand their needs.
15. Host a webinar.
Lastly, webinars can be an incredible way to grab new clients. A webinar is a live, streaming video “workshop” where you either teach or share advice about something (related to your business or product) and can do a Q+A with the attendees. Webinars tend to have comparatively high conversion rates because they give you the chance to connect with your audience, answer their questions, and share your immense knowledge on a particular subject.
I am so, so confident that if you choose even just three of these strategies, you will get more clients in a matter of days or weeks. Instead of trying to tackle everything on this list at once, try picking 3-5 that especially resonate with you and your business and try them out. You can always come back to the others in the future. I hope this helped!