How do you get more clients? I went freelance just about a year ago (for the second time in my career), and though it’s been sometimes more exciting than I’d like, it’s been a great ride and pretty successful. I’m celebrating a year of independence today on Independence Day! So I thought I’d share with you what’s worked to get me clients and a few other aspects of the journey. I hope you find it beneficial to your search consulting business.
Get More Clients With Facebook Ads
These are a huge opportunity, especially right now while not everybody realizes they’re a huge opportunity ;-) You can get a huge amount of awareness and exposure, not to mention cheaper clicks than AdWords can give you. If you want to learn this, I have a FanReach module about them specifically.
Here’s an ad I used mainly for awareness that got me 138,736 impressions for just $26.31.
A similar ad I ran before I spoke at the AllFacebook conference was seen by a prospective client I had talked to 6 months earlier- this reminded him of me and led to a conversation and him becoming a new client.
Just think about what you know about multi-touchpoint analytics and the value of top of the funnel awareness. Act on it.
Get More Clients With AdWords
This is more expensive than Facebook ads, but if your prospects think search is important, they’re probably searching Google for what you offer, so it might be a good idea to show up there. Let’s put aside the debate about whether organic or ads are better- you should do both. Why? I’ll tell you…
Although I started in internet marketing with SEO and AdWords, my association with Facebook and PR experts has taught me the value of mindshare and brand awareness. If you haven’t studied positioning, just know that the brand that shows up the most gains psychological credibility and trust with your potential clients. (And don’t go looking for my ads right now- I have a full load right now writing a book about Facebook and helping my current clients, so although I’m considering new clients, I’m not aggressively going after for them.)
Applying years of experience to how I would advertise myself has led to what I’d describe as focus. I advertise on the most exact keywords I can find, because I only want really qualified prospects.
Get More Clients With Facebook Pages And Like Boxes
Facebook Pages are a double-edged sword. Despite the benefits, you have to post regularly and you want to grow enough fans to not look lame, but they do provide social proof (put a like box on your website showing how many fans you have) and can show up as organic search listings in the Google top 10.
Get More Clients With SEO
If you know how to get SEO results for clients, should you rank for your own profession? I know there are good reasons why you might not- maybe you work on your clients so much that you always push your own sites too far down the priority list to actually work on them. I’d urge you to change this. If you don’t use a calendar to schedule and organize your work, start doing that. Then schedule some time every week to SEO your sites and blog.
I can’t tell you how many clients have told me they wanted to work with me because I ranked so well for “adwords consultant”. In fact, for a while, my name was a suggestion when you typed “adwords consultant” into Google.
Get Clients From Conference Speaking
It’s not easy to get traction in the beginning, but it’s worth it. What establishes your expertise and authority more strongly than getting picked to speak at a conference? Obviously, the conference organizers believe you’re in the top group of experts, and that’s a third-party endorsement.
So how do you get to speak at conferences? First off, you have to keep track of them and then when they open up for panel idea submissions, send some ideas- this could help you get picked. When they open up for speaker submissions, send one in with your best bio that describes your platform and accomplishments. Conference organizers want to know that you know what you’re talking about and will give attendees good value. It’s easier when you have spoken before, so put down anywhere you’ve spoken, even if it’s not a search conference. In my opinion, even having gone to Toastmasters can help, because then they know you have some speaking abilities.
When you start speaking, you have to speak for free. I was very fortunate, and I’m grateful to Loren, Dave and Jordan with Blue Glass/SEJ for asking me to speak at Scary SEO in 2008. That and speaking about AdWords at SES took my career to another level. Having those on my resume helped me speak at Pubcon, SMX, Socialize and the AllFacebook Expo. They also ultimately helped me get a book deal. All of this builds your reputation over time and makes the next level of success possible.
Later, you start getting your travel and expenses paid for, and eventually you may get paid speaking gigs. Keep working on your platform and bio. These need to progress over time. If you aren’t rewriting your bio every three months, you may not be doing enough to build your platform.
Get Clients By Attending Conferences
When I first started in this industry, I went to several conferences as an attendee. This led to friendships and partnerships with some industry peers. I also tweeted with those peers, and those relationships were essential to growing in the industry. I interviewed some of them for blog posts and webinars. Some of them were SEO’s who gave me AdWords business. In fact, I got a client I was really excited to get to work with in 2011 from someone I met and hung out with at conferences in 2008. You never know when and how your industry friends might help you. As I say about social networking, the ROI is inestimable- in a good way!
Is it worth the fees and travel costs? In my experience, it is. You simply can’t assume you’ll make strong enough connections with people while sitting at home. If you do have good Twitter and FB friends, go to a conference with them, because then you create real friendships in person. I think somehow we compartmentalize our purely Internet relationships and they don’t impact us emotionally in the same way. If you’ve ever heard of that book Never Eat Alone, and you’ve lunched a lot with peers, you can attest from your own experience that the bonds created and the value of same are worth it. Besides, we need friends, and they need us. Stay human, oh Internet geek!
Get Clients From Blogging, Your Platform & Self-Promotion
What better way is there to establish expertise and get some attention to your services, than to write something attention-grabbing and authoritative? You can build up your own blog over time, guest post on established blogs, and even get regular gigs on big blogs. You must give valuable information for free in these posts, but it builds a platform. What’s a platform? Anyone who’s looked into writing a book for a conventional publisher or tried to get paid speaking gigs has run into this concept. Your platform is the sum of your brand, expertise, voice, reach, and influence. It includes things like:
- Your blogs and blog posts
- Your internet radio show
- Your appearances on traditional radio
- Your published books
- Syndicated columns
- Twitter followers
- Facebook fans
How many unique people can you reach, and how often? A lot of these things are what we’d call credibility markers. If you’ve seen me around the internet, sometimes you see my photo above a list of well-known periodicals I’ve appeared in or been interviewed by:
Although the downside is that it looks unashamedly self-promoting, it has worked for me in terms of growing my business. One new business partner told me that he chose me precisely because those big names separated me from the competition.
If you want more business, you need to get over your worries about what peers will say about your marketing. The only people whose opinions matter are the ones that pay you or help you. The other people are just holding you back. There’s a story about crabs in a bucket that may or may not be true- I’ve never had a bunch of crabs in a bucket. But supposedly, at a certain point, there are enough of them in there that one could climb out, but the ones below them grab onto the top ones and pull them down. Don’t let your peers drag you down, or you’ll get stuck in a more or less unhappy situation with a lot of friends to commiserate with. Look at that word- commiserate- if you want to live in co-misery, go ahead. If you want to move ahead, you may have to promote yourself if no one else is promoting you.
Also, use blogging to interview others that you’re networking with. It’s a win-win-win, because you can get them some exposure while getting blog readers valuable information, and it gives you a great blog post. It builds your relationships, which can lead to all kinds of opportunities.
Get Clients With Social Networking
As I’ve mentioned before, combining this with face-to-face meetings is very worth it. I would say, on average, for every meet up or conference I’ve gone to, it has resulted in at least one client. Sometimes it creates relationships that lead to multiple clients from the same person. And I’ve passed clients to these people as well.
Form relationships with people who do what you do, and people who do other pieces of the Internet Marketing puzzle that you don’t do. Find friends that do web design and wordpress consulting, for example. Develop relationships with PR people. They respect and are mystified by your search marketing prowess, and their clients will need it at some point.
Go Forth And Grow Your Business
This blog post covers enough tactics to keep you busy for a year! Let me know how it works out for you. You can always contact me here.