All creative small business owners will relate: you bust your booty to craft the perfect website presentation (and maybe that’s what you do for a living) and you think you exude hard work ethic from your past projects, but you’re still not attracting many clients. But fear not – there are ways to gain more clients for your creative business and slowly, but surely build your empire.
Starting off can be REALLY scary and oftentimes disheartening, but pushing on and staying motivated even when you’re low on clientele and feeling terrible about yourself and your skills is incredibly rewarding. This shows that you truly are a badass girlboss (or dudeboss) and can handle just about anything!
I launched my digital marketing business back in December and in the first almost-year that I’ve been up and running, I’ve felt a moderate amount of discouragement and doubt, however I’ve learned to find the strength within myself to stop listening to the negative voice in my head that tells me I’ll never be good enough. Because I totally am, and you are, too.
CREATE A NEWSLETTER
Creating an e-newsletter is a fantastic way to convert leads from your website. Installing a newsletter sign-up form in multiple places throughout the site is a must-do and increases the likelihood of them signing up.
I’ve explained it in a previous post, but an e-newsletter gives you an advantage you might otherwise not have: you entirely own your email subscriber list and have the rights to contact them until they unsubscribe. A blog or website platform can censor you and restrict what you include at a moment’s notice. Not to mention: not everyone may see your latest blog post - no one can ignore your latest email. Having this built up subscriber base might save you from later heartache and is always a staple of any solid marketing strategy.
ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS
This is one that I cannot stress enough. I took on my first client pro-bono through a family friend, and he later invited me as a guest to his business networking group, letting me pitch my business as a nervous 21 year old, introducing myself to my next two-three clients who then spread the word. Word of mouth is still incredibly powerful (if not the most powerful), even in this technology-heavy time.
Attending networking events may land you more clients than you would have otherwise, and if not, it gets your name circulating around your community – it may end up getting to the right person. Networking is also simply essential to increasing your persuasive speaking/pitch skills. My business professor in college always told us to practice a 15 second pitch, a 30 second pitch and then a 60 second pitch.
Go ahead and try to pitch your business in a 15 second mock elevator pitch - it's HARD.
GIVE SOMETHING AWAY
Offering something for free to your leads is essential. I always offer free 1 hour consultations to decipher my clients’ needs and whether or not we are a good match for business. In addition, we offer free styled stock photos and other downloadable freebies on this blog! Not only freebies, but the blog posts themselves are a wealth of knowledge these leads might not otherwise receive for free.
Being generous and giving something away--whether physical product or knowledge is a great way to “make friends” and inevitably convert clients. Here on the blog, I require people to sign up for our newsletter in order to gain access to the freebie library – this is a fabulous way to help convert people while providing something of value.
ASK FOR HELP
This may sound silly, but asking your friends and family for help growing your business shouldn’t be something that’s considered weird. Asking them to share your business cards, website, or simply suggest your services to their friends and coworkers is an excellent way of getting the news out! My stylist at my hair salon just told one of her clients about my biz the other day.
As I mentioned before, word of mouth is a stellar way to gain new clients and perhaps the most effective at times. I’ve gained 90% of my clients through word of mouth and third-party introductions.
A BUSY SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
In addition to blogging, I make sure I utilize social media to make my Internet presence known and gain more brand visibility for my business. I run an Instagram account for my business, as well as keeping my Facebook page updated. When I draft my editorial calendar for the month, I make sure to include at least one rich media post (image, video) and one informative article post on Facebook, and at least one post on Instagram - per day.
This consistency creates dependability and increases the likelihood random leads will hire me due to my clear interest in, knowledge of and love for my profession and the subjects in it.
MAKE YOURSELF IRRESISTIBLE
Position your expertise in this field as necessary--and not one that your clients can gain without you by their side. Butter up yourself for networking and spend a considerable amount of time on your website, perfecting it and making sure that you leave no detail out.
Another way to increase visibility is by requesting LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations from your colleagues and clients (both former and present). Going forth with this process can be tiring, but it's so worth it.
When flustered in doubt, remind yourself: why did I start doing this in the first place? Is this my true calling? If so, why am I worried? Everything happens for a reason and purpose. The journey wasn’t mean to be easy, because where’s the fun in that?
Comment below with your business story and what makes you feel better in times of struggle!
BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN
Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating from The Evergreen State College (Washington) in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to all of life's problems + that all women should strive to embrace a #girlboss mantra.