An Easy Way to Find New Clients

Chris Allsop here again, with my second “lesson learned” to help you build your freelance business.

Yesterday, I shared a method to face your fears and find new solutions. Today, I want to show you an easy way to get your first client.

First, I’d like to repeat what you’ve likely heard before: there are countless clients who need your help. The problem is, it can be scary to get started. How do you approach someone as a professional when you’re just starting your business?

I decided to start with someone I was already acquainted with … my financial planner. She had a website, but I knew it was in desperate need of a makeover. So, one day, after meeting with her about my finances, I asked if she was interested in some help with her marketing. To my delight, she quickly said, “Yes!”

We set up a time to meet, where I suggested redoing her website and creating a lead-generating report. This resulted in a $5,000 project for me. Better yet, she referred me to other local clients in her business network!

This second lesson was extremely valuable for me, and it can be for you, too …

When it comes to getting clients, you have to start somewhere. One of the best places to get clients is where you feel comfortable.

Most often, this is with people you already know, like friends, neighbors, or relatives. Another great source is professional business owners, such as your veterinarian, dentist, lawyer, or, like me, your financial planner.

To get started right now, develop your list of potential clients from people you know. Then, examine how each one is doing their marketing.

For example, if you’re a copywriter or content marketer, start by looking at their websites. Who blogs regularly? Who uses content on their site? Does anyone have a lead-generation report?

Next, look at other marketing methods. Does anyone on your list advertise in the local paper? Has anyone tried direct mail?

Solid potential clients should be promoting regularly – like my financial planner – or at least have a genuine desire to start. Narrow your list to businesses that meet these criteria.

Then, plan your approach to each business owner. Tell them what you do, and how you can help. You can say something like:

I’m starting my business as a direct-response copywriter. I notice you have a website. I can help you convert more of your website visitors to customers by making a few changes. Can I buy you a cup of coffee to go over my suggestions?

Tell them you’ll do their project for a special, first-time client fee in exchange for experience and a testimonial. If you’re not sure what to charge, use this guide to get started.

If you’re uncomfortable asking for a fee at first, offer to do the initial project for free. When you’re starting out, this is a great way to get experience, testimonials, and, equally important, confidence. Just be sure to limit the number of free projects you do.

Also, be very clear about what you’ll provide, and put it in writing. A simple email or letter is fine. And, before you start, give your client an idea of the next step by saying something like:

If you like my lead-generation report, I can help you accomplish even more by writing your blog at my regular fee. And, if you like what I do, I can give you a special price to look after your blog for the next year.”

So, get started by making a list of potential clients. Then, examine each business and narrow it to your top four or five. And, if you have ideas on who to approach as first-time clients, please share them with me here.

For my next “lesson learned,” I’ll outline some steps to help you face the blank page, and get your writing off to a smooth start.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: July 14, 2015

10 Responses to “An Easy Way to Find New Clients”

  1. I'm currently working on my mom's website copy for her new Reiki business. She hasn't put up the site yet so I'm building the content from scratch. It's really opening my eyes to how you should approach an assignment before you start. It's also giving me great experience learning the different avenues of copywriting.

    Marie Shumway

  2. Hi! the AWAI course I took didn't mention lead-generation reports. Can you give a quick explanation or a link? That would be great. Other than that, I'm doing exactly what you suggest--working with a friend at a company that already does some web marketing. The lead-generation report sounds like a great tool. Thanks for sharing! PaulW


  3. Getting started for most is the hard part. Great post on suggesting to get going by having a look at who you know. I liked your link to the suggested pricing guide.
    Thanks, Alex Z

    Guest (Alex Zemkus)

  4. I am having a problem getting started. My niche is retirement and health care. I do not want to build a website, so how do I market to get clients?


  5. Some great ideas here Chris!

    Guest (Steve Hutchings)

  6. I'm dealing with some nerves (like everyone else) about how to reach out and find my first client. I don't think I know anyone personally that would need/want my services, so I was wondering if your suggestion about doing an assignment for free should still be offered if I am reaching out to "strangers," i.e., companies with whom I have no connection? And what if it's a fairly large company rather than a small, local business?

    Katheryne J

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