Vice President of Sales at Copper
Clients are the lifeblood of your business.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, realtor, consultant, or agency, you’re probably looking for clients.
Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran in the industry, being able to find new clients is a crucial skill to increase your monthly income.
But here’s the question: how can you get clients that are truly valuable to your business?
Clients don’t always fit your business model, while every business has come across clients that are more trouble than they’re worth.
To learn how to get clients that will bring true value to your business, you need to think long-term relationships. These are the kinds of clients that think of you as a partner (not just a vendor), trust you—and refer new business to you.
And when it comes to finding new clients, the more ideas, the better. Let’s look at 16 ways to get clients that last:
- Use job boards.
- Scour Twitter.
- Talk to your LinkedIn connections.
- Capture leads on your website.
- Write guest posts.
- Create a Google My Business page.
- Develop partnerships with related businesses.
- Get referrals.
- Be on social media.
- Create customer personas and make a plan to reach out to them.
- Send better cold emails.
- Build a website that showcases your skills and expertise.
- Create video content.
- Ask for testimonials and reviews.
- Share your knowledge.
1. Make the most of your next networking event.
When going to a networking event, don’t think of yourself as a shark hunting for its next meal. Instead, go with the plan to make connections with the right people.
Start by locating important events on Meetup or Eventbrite. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin: focus on the events that are niche-specific to the kind of people who are your ideal clients.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer who focuses on making menus for restaurants, try to attend events in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Now, you’re at the event. You’re in a sea of people you don’t know and you’re not sure where to start.
First step: don’t panic.
Next, introduce yourself to the organizer of the event. This is the person to talk with, because they’ll know exactly who’s here, and who’s important. They can point you in the right direction of who to start a conversation with.
When you start talking with people, focus on asking questions. Take a genuine interest in them and their business.
Don’t be too worried about working the room. Instead, set a reasonable goal of how many people you want to meet at the event, or who you want to meet.
Sometimes, the people you talk with won’t be your potential clients—but they might be the connectors that can introduce you and your services to others.
When you get the feeling that you’ve met someone with a lot of pull and valuable contacts, make sure to give them a business card and ask them to pass your information on to anyone who needs your services.
Oh, and don’t forget to send an email after the event to follow up with all the new contacts you just made—using these subject lines to make sure your emails get opened.
Check out this video for more tips to get the most out of networking events or conferences.
2. Find specific job boards for your niche.
Your ideal clients may already be searching for your services. So, go where the fish are biting.
Job boards like Problogger for writers, 99designs or Behance for designers, or Indeed can be excellent places to discover new clients:
Dig into specific job boards that are popular in your industry. You can narrow the results found there by place, or use remote job boards like We Work Remotely to discover work you can do from home.
Most of these job boards also allow you to sign up for email notifications of new jobs that match your search criteria or skills. That way, you’ll have a constant flow of people interested in your services.
3. Use a clever Twitter search.
Following the idea of going where the fish are biting, you can also use search results on Twitter to find people who are in need of your services.
Start by playing around with different keyword searches on Twitter, such as:
- “Looking for a [role]”
- “Hiring [role]”
- “Looking to hire a [role]”
Find out what combination gets you more quality hits, and then make sure to filter for the latest posts:
You can even play around with different industry hashtags, and narrow down the results to only your ideal clients. When you find a search that works for you, set up automatic email alerts for these Twitter searches with Warble:
Once you find a post that seems interesting, follow the instructions to either email or DM the person who posted.
A word of warning: don’t just copy-paste the same response to every post. Instead, take a moment to check out this person’s profile, their website, and what they do. Then, you can craft a message that is personalized to this post.
4. Engage with your LinkedIn connections.
While many of us use LinkedIn on a daily basis, are you sure that you’re using it to its full potential?
I’m sure you’re using LinkedIn to connect to potential clients. But, how often do you engage with your connections?
If you have thousands of connections, you probably have very little direct contact with them. However, taking a few moments to personalize your invitations to connect or saying hello to a new connection can make all the difference.
For example, check out this conversation on LinkedIn that later led to steady work:
To do this, start by taking a moment to check out the person’s website. If this is an ideal client, you should know what they’re all about.
Then, say something specific about their website, design, blog, etc.
Lastly, go for gold and ask if they’re in need of your services.
By personalizing each of these messages, you’ll show that you’re not just a bot, and you may get a few more responses.
In Copper, you can also organize your new leads with tags. For example, you can add a tag that identifies this lead as someone you discovered on LinkedIn.
Know thy customer. 🔎
Learn how to collect customer information and feedback—and use that data effectively with this free handbook.
5. Capture leads on your website with an attractive offering.
Your website is there for a reason: to attract new clients.
It’s time to maximize your website’s potential.
While having a contact form on your website is good, you can do even better.
No matter how big or small your business is, you can easily create an enticing pop-up that offers something valuable to your clients. This could be a PDF guide, a useful ebook, a quiz, etc.: anything that will catch your potential client’s attention and convince them to give you their email address.
Check out how this marketing agency created an enticing pop-up for their website visitors:
Unlike a contact form, a pop-up like this is designed to entice visitors and get them interested in a specific piece of content. This is also a great way to show your expertise.
Start by developing an idea that’s valuable to your clients: what kind of information are they searching for online, asking in forums, etc.?
Next, create a piece of content (usually an ebook, or a checklist or template) that’s truly valuable to them: no fluff allowed—don't tell them something they probably already know. Instead of just explaining a ‘what’ or a ‘why’, take them into the details of ‘how’. Make this piece of content actionable, give away a few of your secrets, and they’ll appreciate it more.
Then, create your website pop-up with tools like OptinMonster or Thrive Leads.
How do you know that your piece of content is valuable enough? Your ideal clients will be happy to give you their email address in exchange for this free gift.
And when each new lead comes in, give them a warm welcome. Using Zapier, you can create an automation that links your website pop-up tool to your CRM. That way, every time a new lead comes in from the pop-up tool, your CRM will automatically create a new lead or new task, like this:
Make sure you follow up with every new lead that comes in, and you’ll be one step closer to getting more clients.
6. Write guest posts for top industry publications.
Writing guest posts may seem like thankless work, but in reality this is a fast-working method to get seen by your ideal clients.
By tapping into an existing audience, you can present yourself as an expert to the people who may want to hire you down the road.
First, find out where your ideal clients are hanging out. What publications are they reading? What topics are on their minds right now?
Next, get to know the publications your audience is reading. Browse their articles, and come up with an idea they haven’t published or an angle they haven’t taken yet.
Then, reach out to the editor of the publication. Some publications will have a page of instructions for guest posters, so check that first. If there’s no specific instructions, reach out to the editor directly. A simple search on LinkedIn can help you find the right person to reach out to:
Make sure your search includes people you can connect with, plus the company you want to guest post on.
Once your pitch is accepted, create the best article you’ve ever written.
If you don’t trust your writing skills, find a freelance editor to clean up the content for you. Include all of your experience and first-hand knowledge in this article, and you’ll show potential clients that you’re an expert that can be trusted.
The key here is to have a byline at the bottom of the article and a link back to your website, which will help you draw new clients to you.
7. Create a Google My Business page.
Whether you’re an agency or a solopreneur, having a Google My Business page establishes you as a professional.
This free tool makes sure that when people search for your business online, they find you. It can also help those looking for your services on a local level find you via Google Maps.
You’ll be able to add important details such as your business name, category, website, phone number, and address:
Later, Google will verify your business by phone, postcard, etc.
To make your business listing really stand out, add some pictures. In fact, business listings with pictures get 35% more clicks through to their website. So, add your logo and other pictures to help people understand your business. For example, if you have a physical office, add some professional-looking pictures of that office. If not, you could use some of the images that you have on your website, such as screenshots of your work portfolio, or even a couple of your own headshots.
By creating this listing, you’ll make it even easier for people to find your business, especially when they do a “near me” search.
8. Develop partnerships with related businesses.
In many cases, multiple businesses can be codependent without stepping on each other’s toes.
For example, if you’re a web designer, why not partner with a copywriter? These two services often go hand-in-hand, and you can help each other get clients by working together.
This kind of symbiotic relationship works both ways: so, when new clients come to you looking for web design, you can recommend fresh copy from your copywriting partner to go with it.
To find these relevant partnerships, think about what kind of services your clients are often looking for that you don’t offer. If you’re a copy editor, could you partner with a freelance writer? If you’re a web designer, could you partner with a print designer?
Next, search for these people (yes, it’s time to hit LinkedIn again). While running the search terms, you might even find some relevant contacts within your network.
Strike up a conversation with these people. Offer to meet over coffee (or over Skype). Develop a partnership plan beforehand, and show them how this could be mutually beneficial.
Then, you’ll have a valuable partner who can help you get clients as you do the same for them.
9. Be proactive about getting referrals.
Myth: When a client is happy with your work, they’ll probably talk to their friends and colleagues about you.
Myth: If a client isn’t talking to others freely about your work, they probably don’t like you.
Fact: If you want your clients to spread the word about your services, you need to get proactive.
Your clients love your work, but they probably just haven’t thought about mentioning you to their contacts. That’s why it’s important to be proactive.
First, pick the right time to ask for a referral. After a big project sees good results, or when your client mentions something specific about how much they like your work, this is the perfect time to send them an email like this:
Your email should be short, simple, and direct. By timing your email right, you’ll get a great referral from a happy client.
This will lead to the type of high-quality clients who value your work because someone they trust recommended you.
When you’re in these groups, don’t just spout off about your services (unless you want to get kicked out). Instead, take time to answer questions, join in the discussion, and be a valuable member of the group.
After people see your name pop up multiple times and read through your helpful advice, they’ll start to trust you as an authority figure. When it’s appropriate (and if the group rules allow it), mention your services as part of a solution to a problem someone has raised.
Other places to establish your authority are Quora and Twitter. Answering questions on Quora (with an appropriate tagline under your name) is a great way to get in front of your ideal clients, like this smart freelance editor did:
Help them through difficult tasks or moments in life, and they’ll see your value as an expert.
With regular, meaningful participation on social media, you’ll find that valuable clients start to come to you.
11. Create customer personas and make a plan to reach out to them.
Having clear customer personas is a great way to start getting long-lasting clients.
After some time in the business, you know what kind of clients will bring you the most value. You’re probably aware of specific traits that your best clients all share, and you can use that to your advantage.
Build detailed customer personas that dive into the important aspects of your perfect client. Include details about their educational background, income, family situation, where they spend time online, etc.
Next, make a plan to reach out to them. Understand the way they express themselves, and mimic that speech pattern on your website and in your emails. Know which social media platforms are their favorites, or whether they prefer contact over the phone.
This will help you narrow in on the clients that will be most valuable to you in the future.
Pro-tip: If you need help defining your target customer, download our free ideal customer profile worksheet.
12. Up your cold email game.
How you cold email your clients can make the difference between lots of new projects or an empty to-do list.
So, take time to improve your skills at cold emailing new clients.
For example, you could take a course on Udemy, or study cases of real cold emails that have worked for others in your field.
Also, it’s important to keep track of the success of the emails that you’re sending. So, keep score: what kind of emails seem to get a better response? How does the subject line affect the probability of them opening the email?
To really test the success of your cold emails, use a CRM that supports email tracking, like Copper.
That way, you can track email engagement right in Gmail, and see when people open your emails, click on your links, or open attachments.
Using these insights, you can work to improve your cold emails and gain more valuable clients.
13. Build a website that showcases your skills and expertise.
Your website is your introduction to the world. Build it right, and clients will start coming to you instead of the other way around.
First, make sure your website copy focuses on your clients, not on you. Talk about what you’ve helped past clients to accomplish, or what kind of results new clients will see when they work with you.
Next, use your website to showcase your skills. This can be done by creating an eye-catching portfolio, or adding case studies from previous clients.
Check out how email marketer John McIntyre uses his website to really sell his services. This is what you see towards the end of his sales page:
That kind of serious copy with real results can seal the deal.
Another way to make your website work for you is by building a blog.
By sharing your knowledge in a blog, you kill two birds with one stone: show off your expertise, and get more traffic to your site by building SEO-friendly content that matches what your clients are searching for.
14. Create valuable video content that attracts your clients.
Video is all the rage these days, and solopreneurs or agencies shouldn’t shy away from this tactic.
While it may feel awkward to sit alone in your home office and talk to a camera, creating relevant video content is a great way to build confidence in what you’re selling.
This works just as well in a B2B setting, since 70% of B2B buyers watch videos throughout their purchase journey. One out of every five B2B buyers will watch over an hour of video content while researching their purchase.
So, get in on the ground floor. Help your clients answer important questions, or get to know you and your services through valuable video content.
Check out how YouTube marketing agency Viewership does this with their own YouTube channel:
They take important questions that their audience is currently asking, and turn them into actionable video that supports their message and mentions their services.
By following this example, you can create video content that helps your target audience gain trust in you as an authority, and puts them on the path to becoming valuable, long-term clients.
15. Ask for testimonials and reviews.
When you’re a superstar for your current clients, they’ll be happy to say all kinds of nice things about you online.
That being said, they probably won’t do it unless prompted. So, be proactive; just like with asking for referrals, pick the perfect time when they’re extra happy with you to ask for a testimonial.
If you have a Google My Business page as we discussed above, you can ask your clients to leave reviews on Google.
Also, get your happy clients to give you testimonials on your LinkedIn profile by using the “Ask for a recommendation” feature.
These testimonials boost the value of your services, and will help bring in higher-quality clients:
Use these expert methods to get valuable long-term clients.
Have you ever worried that the methods you’re using aren’t the best ones to get valuable clients?
Are you stuck with clients that don’t really fit your business model, or that cause you more headaches than they’re worth?
If so, using the 16 expert methods we’ve discussed above will help you focus on the clients that can really make a difference for your business.
Keep trying new methods to get clients, and you’ll end up with a clientele that is in love with the services you offer and stays with you into the long-term.
10. Have a meaningful presence on social media.
Social media is a goldmine for finding valuable new clients that last. But you have to play the game right.
So, don’t waste your time posting about your services, or talking about how you’re looking for clients.
Instead, find your ideal clients where they are, and interact with them to gain their trust.
For example, Facebook groups are a valuable place to look for clients.
Start by joining the groups where your ideal clients hang out. If you’re a realtor, find groups where people talk about buying houses in your area. If you’re a proofreader for books, find groups of self-published authors: