If you’ve made the New Year’s resolution to take control of your life and start a business or go freelance, after congratulating you, we’d like to warn you that you’re in for one hell of a ride.
The early days of self-employment are going to have you screaming in pain, primarily because you’ll to be panicking over how to find clients. You’re going to find yourself at many a fruitless networking event or, worse, handing out flyers. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Become a social butterfly
When you’re striking out on your own, as hard as you might be working behind the scenes, now is not the time to take a hiatus from the world. As every freelancer and business person knows, referrals from people you already know are a precious source of leads.
As you’ll soon discover after numerous promising meetings with “promising leads” that end up yielding nothing, a referral from someone you know is much easier to convert into a paying client.
That doesn’t mean you need to nag your friends to refer clients to you. But it does mean you should always make sure the people around you know what you do, even if you think they wouldn’t understand.
It’s going to take time, but eventually, after months of putting yourself out there, the clients will start trickling in, and if you do good work one thing will lead to another.
Actionable step: At the beginning of the each month in 2015, fill up your social calendar for the next four weeks, making appointments with friends at least once/twice a week. Also make it a point to accept every social invitation you receive.
2. Guest post on other people’s websites
The Internet can be a huge source of leads, but only if you know how to use it well. While it goes without saying that you should fill up your social media profiles with information about your business and get a LinkedIn account, that alone is not enough to get you clients.
One of the more effective ways to direct potential clients to your website or social media profile is to make a guest post on a topic that’s likely to be read by potential clients, on a website that they’re likely to see.
Requesting to make a guest post is as simple as dropping a friendly email to the webmaster, telling him what you’d like to write about and asking if he’d be interested. Of course, most webmasters get tons of requests, so you’ll need to convince them why you’re the best person to write on a certain topic.
For instance, if you’re a freelance tour guide in Singapore, check if established travel sites will publish articles aimed at travellers to Singapore. When the article gets published, you’ll want to make sure your author bio states that you conduct tours in Singapore, of course.
Actionable step: Identify ten websites you’d like to guest post for and draft an email to each webmaster asking if they’d be open to a guest post.
3. Conduct a workshop
If you’re offering a product or service, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to teach something to people who might later become paying customers by conducting a workshop or short course. There are several places in Singapore where you can run courses, either for free or for a fee.
The great thing is that if you can get a paying gig, you’ll have an additional source of income… and every self-employed person knows the more income streams the better.
For instance, the National Library Board maintains an entire calendar of workshops. Past classes have included Photoshop workshops conducted by a graphic designer and a tie-dye workshop organised by a fashion collective.
Community centres regularly run music, dance, sport, exercise and cooking classes, and many schools that teach the very same classes get a foothold in the market by conducting community centre classes.
Actionable step: Devise a full-day workshop or an 8 week course that’s relevant to the nature of your business and then pitch it to community centres in your area (or any other organisation that’s appropriate).
Are you an experienced entrepreneur or freelancer? Share your tips for getting clients in the comments!
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