Finding clients is probably the toughest and scariest part of being a freelancer and creative business owner. Utilising our online presence as a way to attract new clients and keep our schedules booked up with work is a great way to build a consistent and stable service-based business, but it takes an intentional, purposeful, and strategic approach to your web and content strategy to really turn your online presence into your best marketing tool for your business.
My approach? Make it easier for your dream clients to find you online. If we work within a ‘create it and they will come’ mentality we’ll struggle to really book clients along the way. We have to show up, be available, meet them where they’re at, and be intentional and purposeful with our online presence every step of the way. If you’re struggling to book up your calendar with work, or you’d like to explore some ways you can unlock the potential on your online space so that it does the hard work of attracting new clients for you, I have 10 steps for you today to help you craft an online presence that attracts and converts the right people for you. Some of them may be more suited to your business model than others, but these 10 are the biggest game-changers I’ve seen in both my own business and my clients too.
1. Your Digital Storefront
It all starts with your website. It’s your digital storefront and the first impression your brand makes with the world - we usually only have around 8 seconds to make that first impression with a new visitor, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. All the best content and social media marketing strategy in the world can be fruitless if your digital storefront isn’t doing your brand justice.
The solution? Spruce up your website. Spend some time creating the damn best digital home you can. Make it purposeful, functional, and user-friendly. Make it engaging, exciting, and an extension of who you are and what you do. Create a website experience that aligns with your brand, your work, and what your clients can expect if they invest in working with you and your services.
Further reading for you: Get Your Website Together With These Ten Simple Steps
2. Package Yourself
Everyone has a services page these days, and when a prospective client is browsing them and trying to figure out who best to invest their money and time with, it’s essential you package your services in a way that catches their attention. Instead of just whipping up a services page and hoping for the best, spend some time crafting packages that will really appeal to your ideal clients. Dream clients can only know that you’re the right fit for them if they can easily consume exactly what it is they’ll be investing in.
Also - a packaged service instead of just "X service for X amount of hours for X amount of money” almost always looks more valuable, exciting, and worth our time.
3. Have A Process
Investing money in a service, whether it’s a high, medium, or low investment, is always a little scary. Having a clear and concise process for both the on-boarding stage and your entire time working together from start to finish will help to ease those nerves and give your potential clients a better insight into what your services offer. It also will help you streamline your own process too and make everything feel a whole lot more manageable.
So from how you on-board clients, to the welcome process, to how you manage communications, file sharing, and meetings throughout your time working together, to the payment process and any terms and conditions, making this as simple as possible can help to ease the initial butterflies of taking that leap into hiring you. And sharing this in a concise and fuss free way through your online presence is a great way to help your dream clients discover that you’re the best fit for them.
4. Differentiate Yourself
It’s highly likely that you’re currently existing in a crowded marketplace. Talented creative business owners are popping up each and every single week and if you want to stand out online and attract the right people for you, differentiating yourself can make all the difference. Instead of just being another “insert freelance title here”, once you manage to build a brand that causes people to stop and pay attention (and for the right reasons), it will be so much easier for you to convert dream clients along the way.
Help your future clients figure out that you’re the right fit for them by being brave enough to stand out a little online. Say things a little differently, break the mould, and find a way to build a brand that is just a little bit different to everything else out there.
The best way to do this? Figure out what you can bring differently to the table. Is it your point of view? Your visual aesthetic? Your process and approach to your industry? Your personal brand?
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get lost in the noise. You’re more than just another “insert freelance title here”, but it’s your job to show that to prospective clients each and every time you show up online.
5. Create Content For Them
This one’s pretty obvious, but our content strategy can be a serious game changer when it comes to utilising our online presence as a marketing tool for attracting clients along the way. Your content is how you can share your expertise, build trust and brand awareness, and build a deeper connection with your audience so that once the time comes for them to hire someone of your specific expertise you’ll be their first port of call. The best part about content? It’s sharable, so when done right it can open you up to bigger audiences along the way - and therefore more potential clients too.
Your content strategy will always be an experiment. Some things will resonate, and some things won’t, and the best content marketing comes when you really understand two things: your business & your target market. Once you figure out what it is you really offer - not just the nitty gritty and the terminology, but the actual value and results that your services offer to your clients - and what it is your audience really needs help with, because it’s not always what we expect it to be, that’s when you start to create content that connects, converts, and sells.
Keep showing up and being of service to your audience. Create content that resonates with them, that stays on their mind long after they’ve clicked out of their web browser, and utilise the power of your voice and point of view so that you actually say something instead of just adding to the noise of your industry. Whether you create and share videos, podcasts, blog posts, Instagram updates, or newsletters - or even better, a mix of a few - make it purposeful and engaging. Content marketing is a game changer, but only when we really pay attention and figure out the best approach for our brand and our business.
6. Share Your Personal Brand
Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C, your clients buy from who you are as a person as much as who you are as a business. Especially as creative entrepreneurs, our personal brand plays a huge part in who our business attracts and repels and also in defining what work and type of clients we’re best suited to. In the quest of always being purposeful and professional online, many of us shy away from digging deep and really sharing our personal brand, but then we will miss out of how much of a game changer it can be along the way.
Sharing your personal brand doesn’t mean you have to air your dirty laundry online. It’s about sharing who you are, how your story has played a part in shaping your creativity and approach to your work, and a little bit of the behind-the-scenes of what it is you do. You get to define and shape your personal brand, though I’ve found the more authentic the better. Your personal brand helps to develop and share your expertise, your value, and build a deeper connection between you and your audience.
Personal brands are how we become unforgettable. Instead of just being another generic freelancer, our personal brands are how we share who we really are and the story and purpose and intentions behind the work that we do. And for our clients it helps break down those barriers that hold them back from taking the leap into hiring us and opening up their life or business to our services. People buy from other people, so never forget to stay a little human along the way.
7. Hang Out Where They Are
We can’t expect clients to find us if we’re not actually hanging out where they are. We have to be visible to be seen. Now this doesn’t mean just showing up for the sake of it, or bombarding potential clients once we are hanging out in the right places, but instead just being available and aware of what’s going on around us.
Creating and sharing content on the platforms where our ideal clients like to hang out, engaging in a two-way conversation, and collaborating and networking with others in our industry so we can introduce each other to our audiences are some of the best ways to show up and be available.
This may sound like the simplest of points, but just committing to putting ourselves out there and being available can make a huge difference. Build networking and connecting into your weekly marketing tasks - depending on your business and your own personal preferences, this may look like big group chats or maybe just one-on-one conversations with your readers and community. Putting yourself out there can be scary, but having an empty schedule with no clients is even scarier. When done with the honest intention of serving the people you serve best and building and developing genuine and authentic relationships and connections, this step can actually be one of the most fulfilling and fruitful in your search for dream clients online.
8. Build & Utilise Your List
For many of us, our email lists are our secret weapon. They’re the perfect place to build a deeper connection, share our expertise and brand message in a more personal way, and really show up and serve the people we serve best. With all the noise out there about how to build your list and what to do with it once you’re all set up, it can be tough to figure out how you can craft one that will really work well alongside your brand. The secret is to create something that plays a part within the entire eco-system of your digital content - because none of it exists by itself. Everything you create and share online all plays a part alongside each other to share your brand message, build connections, and market and promote your business along the way.
What you do with your email list is up to you. Mariah and I talked about this in depth recently in a webinar we did about Getting Your First 1K Email Subscribers & Making Your First 1K Online, and I also shared 10 Exciting Things You Could Do With Your Mailing List that may have some useful jumping off points for you. Whatever you do with your email list, don’t be afraid to do things a little differently. They can actually be a great way of differentiating yourself online, so don’t feel the pressure to just follow the crowd and do the ‘done’ thing. They’re a tool at your disposal to make waves with in whichever way you think will work best for your brand.
p.s Have you checked out the first Impress Their Inbox Lab yet? It’s a live digital workshop + a laser-focused coaching session with me to help you create emails that turn your list into customers, clients, and lifelong brand ambassadors.
9. Prioritise Building Trust
This one is a serious game changer and probably the step I’d encourage you to explore the most. Connecting with your audience and converting them into clients can sometimes come down to one very simple thing - do they trust you? Do they trust that you’re worth the investment of both their time and money? Do they trust that you will show up and do the work? Do they trust that you’re the right fit for them?
And the only way to build this trust? To be authentic every single step of the way. When we prioritise building authentic trust, we commit to showing up and being transparent, open, and honest with everything that we do online. Through consistency, sharing our personal brand, and serving those who we serve best, we can develop an online presence that builds authentic connections, relationships, and trust with future clients.
The best way to build trust? Show up and be consistent and authentic every step of the way. I talk about this in more depth in this solo episode of my podcast Make It Happen all about Authentically Building Trust Online.
10. Share Your Value
Another game changer - share your value. We’re so intertwined with our business and our brand message that sometimes we can forget what it would be like to engage with our brand if we didn’t know all the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes details. When people invest in our services, they’re investing in the results that that investment will bring. There are many people out there with beautiful digital storefronts, engaging packages, streamlined processes, and awesome content that could easily be the creative business they choose, so for them to choose us we have to show them the value behind the work that we do.
What makes you good at your job? What do you bring to the table in your field that makes you a good fit for your clients? What makes your services so valuable and worth your clients investment? Figure this out and then share it often online. Through your sales copy, your website copy, your testimonials, and your content marketing, make it clear the results your services bring.
For example, I’m a creative coach who specialises in content, web, and blog strategy. I help my clients unlock the potential of their online space so that they can make things happen online, attract dream clients and customers, and use their website and content as a game changer for their creative business. I’m a coach because I do my best work when helping people figure things out themselves by asking the right questions and creating the best environment for self discovery and experimentation. I’m here to enable and teach, not to do the work for my clients. I believe this is what makes my work valuable, and I share this often by trying to do the same through the free content I share online. With everything that I create and share online I have two intentions - to be of service to my audience and to be of service to my business. By offering free resources, insights, and content which also shares my abilities, expertise, and the value in my work, I’m able to fulfil those intentions each and every single time I create and share content online.
The reason I’m sharing this is because I hope it can help you see how I blend my purpose and the needs of my business without compromising on either. Figure out what makes your work so valuable and what tangible results it actually brings for your clients (the best way to do this? Ask your current and previous clients) and then breathe that into the content and copy you share online.
Your online presence is one of the best ways you can attract clients so that you can keep a consistent stream of work coming into your business at all times. Even more than that, it's a great way to attract dream clients so that you're always doing work that feeds your soul as much as it does your bank balance. Some of these steps may not be for you, but my hope is that they can be a jumping off point for awesome ideas of your own. If you're committed to making your business happen, being pro-active and exploring the ways you can tap into your online presence as a marketing tool for your business is, in my experience, one of the best ways you can spend your time.
Over to you - how do you help your dream clients find you online?
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