4 Ways to Find Clients When You’re Just Starting Out

Did you just launch a gorgeous website offering killer services, but have ZERO inquiries coming in? If so, don’t fret! You’re not alone. It’s easy to think that once you launch your site the clients will magically start streaming in, but that’s usually not the case. Most likely you’ll have to go out and find your first few clients before they start coming to you. Luckily there are 4 ways to get clients that are simple and easy to do. The following strategies will take some time and effort, but if you’re willing to do the work, you absolutely can get clients!

Instagram

Nothing groundbreaking about using Instagram for business, but without the right strategies, you can’t expect to get clients. In order to do so, make sure you have an account specifically for your business and post your work regularly. If your work isn’t visual, posting quotes or helpful quick tips is a good way to give a taste of what you offer.

Your bio should clearly state the kinds of services you offer and to whom you offer them. This instantly helps people understand what you do. It’s also a great idea to mention the freebie that you offer to email subscribers and link to it.

The next step is to figure out who your dream clients are already following on Instagram. This requires a thorough understanding of your ideal client, which you can figure out by downloading the client discovery worksheet at the end of this post! Once you know which brands and influencers your target market is attracted to, check out the followers of those accounts and start engaging with them. You can follow them and like their images, but meaningful comments will always get you the farthest.

By employing these strategies, I was able to get the majority of my clients from Instagram my first year in business and still continue to. I know first-hand that if you post your work consistently, look in the right places, and start engaging this strategy really works!

Facebook Groups

Much like Instagram, Facebook is only effective if you’re hanging out in the right places. Facebook groups are where you’re going to find potential clients. To use these groups effectively, make sure that your personal profile links to your business page or your website. You can do that by editing where you work on your personal account. This is important because you want people to be able to find your business easily if they see your comment in a group and want to learn more about what you do.

Next, find some Facebook groups where your ideal client is hanging out. Look for groups that are active, but not too large. You’ll end up getting lost in big groups, but there’s no point being in a group that isn’t active. Look for one that has a couple hundred members and a few new comments every day.

When you’ve identified two to three groups where your ideal client is hanging out it’s time to start engaging. There are many ways you can do this. One is to post helpful tips that show your expertise, even better if you have a graphic to post with it. You can also post some free, pay-it-forward offers to the first few people who respond.

Most importantly respond to people’s questions and comments, especially if they are related to your area of expertise. Taking the time to help and engage with others will show that you’re knowledgeable and not there just to promote yourself. You will start creating genuine connections that will go a long way.

Remember to read the rules for each group you join. Some have strict guidelines about what you can and can’t post. With Facebook groups, it’s important that you don’t come across as spammy or look like you’re there just for self-promotion. If you’re there to genuinely help others, they will remember you when the time comes for them to hire someone in your field.

Guest Blogging

If you like writing, guest blogging is a great way to get your name out there. To get started, it’s best to have a little blogging experience under your belt even if it’s just for your own blog. This helps you find your voice, improve your writing skills, and gain some experience before writing for a larger audience. It also provides you with writing samples that some blogs may require before accepting you as a contributor.

Once you have some articles under your belt look for blogs that your ideal client would read. You can start with small blogs, but obviously the bigger audience the blog has the better. You can gauge this by the number of comments on the blog and how many social shares it gets. It’s also helpful to see if they’re sharing their blog posts on social media and if so how much engagement they’re receiving.

Freelance Sites

Applying for jobs on freelance sites is a more direct approach and helpful if you need clients NOW! The downside is that these sites will take a percentage of what you earn, but sometimes it’s worth it.

Generally, freelance sites have a bad rap because of the cheap clients and low-balling competitors you’ll run into, but the good thing about these sites is that they are already chockful of people who need your services. It’s all about finding the clients who value your work and are willing to pay for it. This might sound like a hard task, but it’s not impossible.

I’ve had a handful of small jobs from Upwork and when it comes to getting them it’s all about finding the right jobs to apply to and writing a solid cover letter. You’ll be competing with so many low-ballers who aren’t willing to put effort into a good cover letter that this will instantly make you stand out. It’s not about the number of jobs you apply to, but rather the quality of them. So save your time and don’t bother applying for the jobs with low rates.

When looking for jobs on these sites use the filters to find the best ones. When I’m searching for jobs on Upwork I set my filter to expert experience level to weed out clients who are looking for the cheapest candidate. I also like to find clients that have hired before on Upwork, making it more likely they will hire again. I make sure their payment is verified to ensure I will receive a paycheck in a timely manner. The less number of proposals (people that have already applied) the better your chances are.

The rest of the filters depend on your personal preference. It’s always a good idea to look for clients that need ongoing work. This will save you time in the long run by only having to apply once. Here are what the filter options look like in Upwork.

From there it’s all about writing a strong cover letter. A great way to start off is by thanking them for valuing quality work and to mention how refreshing it is to see that. Speak to any relevant skills and experience you have and include samples of your work if necessary. Take interest in their company and ask relevant questions. With all the spammy competition it’s not hard to stand out. Sound like a human who cares about the job you’re applying to and it’ll get you far!

Popular freelance sites:

We’ve also included this workbook for you to get started on narrowing down your dream clients and strategizing where to find them. Sign up below to download it instantly!

That wraps up four ways that I have personally had success finding clients when the inquiries weren’t coming in. Once you’ve downloaded and completed the client discovery worksheet, choose one of the strategies that sound most appealing and go find your next client!

How have you found clients when work was slow? Share in the comments!

Author: Megan Hampson

Megan is the owner of Letterform Creative, a small design studio where she gives small business owners a confidence boost with beautiful branding and websites. She was raised in AZ, attended college in Seattle, worked abroad in Spain, and now lives in California with her husband. When not behind her computer, Megan loves to cuddle with her feline fur-baby, drink kombucha, and go for long walks while listening to podcasts.

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  • Great article, Megan! Another way that I’ve had success finding clients is by pitching them directly and letting them know exactly how I can provide value to their business. It’s a numbers game and you will get rejected/ignored, but at least I know that I will ALWAYS get new business out of this approach!

    • Thanks for reading, Charlotte! Pitching directly to companies you’re interested in working with is always a great idea. It shows a lot of initiative and even if they don’t need your services at the moment they might remember you in the future when they do. Glad you mentioned that one!